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.
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.
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.