View west from How Hill

How Hill (26 May 2018)

Yellow Flag IrisYellow Flag Iris

The wherry HathorThe wherry Hathor

Hathor interior - CrocodilesHathor interior - Crocodiles

Hathor interior - ScarabHathor interior - Scarab

Electric EelElectric Eel

Large Red DamselfliesLarge Red Damselflies

Information BoardInformation Board

Norfolk HawkerNorfolk Hawker

Cardinal BeetleCardinal Beetle

Four-spotChaserFour-spotChaser

Swan FamilySwan Family

GoldfinchGoldfinch

Milk ParsleyMilk Parsley


Sometimes what you hope for when you pick a date on a dark evening in February actually works out. The sun broke through as 8 of us gathered in the car park at How Hill at 10.30am,and it turned into a beautiful and warm day. Without much of a plan but to explore How Hill, we readily accepted a trip on the Electric Eel for midday.
At the wharf, we took the opportunity to see inside the wherry Hathor; the Egyptian decoration inside gave us crocodile and scarab for the list.
As we wandered prior to our boat trip, we found dragonflies, later identified as Norfolk Hawkers (we were told that newly-hatched ones do not have such obvious green faces) and damselflies in the bushes next to the tea room, also Large White and Red Admiral butterflies; a cuckoo called from somewhere in the area of How Hill wood, and back near Toad Hole Cottage, we spotted a swallowtail butterfly, although we had been told that only one had been seen that week. Across the river Ant (very busy with boat traffic on a Bank Holiday Saturday) a male marsh harrier took advantage of the warming air to reach great height. We strolled a little way along the river bank to the north, and heard sedge and Cetti's warblers on the How Hill side. As we waited for the Electric Eel, a pair of goldfinches apparently were findind plenty of insects in the thatched roof of the boathouse.
The boat trip took us north along the Ant for about three quarters of a mile; a common whitethroat sat up on hawthorn on the river bank and sang its scratchy song; Robin, the boatman pointed out a windpump in the process of being restored to working order. We then turned off the river into the nature reserve ( its always exciting to go past a "No entry" sign); the channels in the nature reserve are for access to allow removal of harvested reeds and sedge by water, and as such need to be dredged every five years or so. Along the channel were numerous dragonflies, this time Four-spot Chasers and Hairy dragonflies, and damselflies, Large Red, Red-eyed and a selection of blue ones. Robin showed us the leaves of the milk parsley, the food plant of the swallowtail butterfly caterpillar. We also saw the first yellow flag irises, and waterlilies, both yellow and white.
We then disembarked to go and look at a bird hide. Robin explained that it was necessary to cut the reeds regularly, even where they were not of sufficient quality for the thatchers, in order to prevent the marsh from drying out and becoming carr. The hide overlooked a stretch of water known as Reedham Water; technically called a flood, it is now isolated from the river. There were three tern platforms, but they had been occupied by black-headed gulls; the terns don't arrive early enough to get a look-in. On the water were a pair of mute swans, two great-crested grebes, two coots, four mallard, and about six tufted duck; the great-crested grebes had a nest on the edge of the water opposite the hide. Over the far side were two cormorant, and, farther off, a buzzard and another marsh harrier.
Back to the Electric Eel, and a short trip across the busy River Ant brought us back to the staithe, where the group separated to find lunch and independently explore the rest of How Hill.

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