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27 November 2014

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You are in: Norfolk > Nature & Science > Whitlingham Nature Walk > Stage 3
Picture: Common Blue damselfly
Damsel flies can be seen in abundance around the Great Broad

To reach the second stop on the circular walk around the Great Broad, just follow the path east (away from Norwich) along the southern shore.

The first bridge you come to, spanning a small dyke, is the second stop on our nature tour.

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From the bridge at stop number two, you are standing over a small dyke. Dykes have been a key feature of Broadland over the last few centuries.

The dykes were not only a system of internal waterways for transporting reed and sedge, but they were important to farmers for controlling grazing cattle.

The farmers also used the dykes to control the water levels and to act as hedges in the wetland.

The dykes are well populated with flora, including Water Mint, Water Forget-me-Knot and the poisonous Water Droplet.

Wildlife habitat

In addition to the plantlife, the dykes are also rich in wildlife making an ideal habitat for damsel and dragonflies.

It's thought there are 17 species of damselflies to be found in Great Britain. At Whitlingham Great Broad you'll see many of the Common Blue (Enallagma cyathigerum). With a wingspan around 40mm, they live on small insects.

On a warm day at the country park, you'll also see many dragonflies flying around at high speed. With their characteristic long thin bodies, they have four large wings held out to the sides and two large compound eyes.

In addition to a water-based habitat, dragonflies can also be found in woodland clearings, such as the wildflower meadow just the other side of Whitlingham Wood which you can visit if you take our history tour around the park.

Bee orchid

If you turn 180° away from the Great Broad, just on the other side of the road, is an area of picnic meadow.

During the summer months it's possible to find the Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera) here, which feature a furry lower petal with pale yellow markings giving it a resemblance to a bumblebee.

The woodland area that can be viewed in the distance is situated on an escarpment (a continuous steep face of a ridge or plateau formed by erosion), rising above the flood plain of the River Yare, which hugs the northern and eastern edges of the country park.

To continue the tour, carry along the path to the far end of the Great Broad.

If you're in need of a breather, there's a commemorative bench just a few metres after the bridge.


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WHITLINGHAM VIDEO TOUR Realplayer required
Take the Whitlingham history walk
360° view of Whitlingham Great Broad
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Take a neighbouring Walk Through Time - Cambridge, Ipswich, Lincoln
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