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In celebration of BBC’s Springwatch coming to Norfolk (and since it’s gotten us inspired to learn more about our local animal friends), we decided to create our own Norwich wildlife round-up!
People don’t often associate cities with a thriving and wide-ranging wildlife population, but Norwich is the perfect place to find the unexpected. There’s plenty of creatures around if you know where to look – and if you aren’t quite sure where to start your search, we’ve got you covered.
1. Peregrine Falcons at Norwich Cathedral
Did you know the Norwich Cathedral is home to a pair of breeding peregrine falcons? Each year they nest up in the cathedral spire to raise their chicks! The Cathedral works with the Hawk and Owl Trust to maintain their nesting platform and to set up webcams – so you can see live footage of the falcons here.
If you’d rather take a look in person, head to the Norwich Cathedral observation point, which is open from 10am – 4pm during April – June.
2. Eaton Park
Eaton Park is the ideal spot for a day of fun, with its green spaces, café, crazy golf and model boating lake. But it’s also home to a whole host of birds. Probably most famous is its resident heron, who you’ll often see paddling at the lily pond, and perhaps even doing a little fishing.
There are many other birds to spot as well. Jays and great spotted woodpeckers are a common sight, and if you’re lucky, you might be able to catch a glimpse of a redpoll or Britain’s smallest bird, the goldcrest.
3. Mousehold Heath
Most people know Mousehold Heath for its iconic view of Norwich. And while it certainly is a fantastic vista, if you make your way from the viewpoint and spend some time in the woodland and heathland, you’ll find other treasures too. With 184 acres to explore, it’s a wonderful location for walking and wildlife spotting!
See how many birds, butterflies, and dragonflies you can spot on a walk. And don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for lizards! On warm days they’re often found in the open heathland areas. If you like your birds, you may be lucky enough to come across sparrowhawks and kestrels in the trees or flying above you. And in the spring, head to the vinegar pond to watch the frogs gather.
4. River Wensum
The River Wensum is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation, so it’s no surprise it’s home to many wildlife species. Take a walk along the river and you’re practically guaranteed to see ducks, swans and other water birds. Perhaps you’ll even catch a glance of barbel fish beneath the water?
But the star of the show has to be the River Wensum seal. More often seen at spots on the North Norfolk Coast, such as Horsey and Blakeney Point, there have been several sightings of a seal 27 miles inland in Norwich! Keep your eyes peeled to see where it turns up next. Previously it’s made appearances at The Ribs of Beef pub, and more recently Weatherspoons (perhaps it’s after a drink?). If you manage to spot it, tag us on social media @visitnorwich and let us know!
5. Marriott’s Way
A beautiful walk between Norwich and the market town of Aylsham, Marriott’s Way is a great route to follow for wildlife. The walk itself is a County Wildlife Site, and it passes through a range of interesting landscapes and habitats. There’s otters and kingfishers down by the river, swifts and swallows flying overhead, and hares, foxes and deer hidden in the fields. You may even spot owls on the hunt for food or snakes soaking in the sunshine on warm days!
6. Whitlingham Country Park
The gateway to the Norfolk Broads, Whitlingham Country Park boasts 280 acres of beautiful countryside and is a great spot for family outings. Hire a Beryl Bike and follow the cycle paths to discover all the wildlife living in the park.
Head to the swift tower to watch for birds or spend some time at the conservation area on the northern shore to see water birds including geese, herons, cormorants, and even kingfishers. Wander into the woods to discover woodpeckers, treecreepers, nuthatches and jays. And if you’re hoping to catch some mammals, there’s also bats, voles, foxes and even otters.
Venture a little further out from the city and there’s plenty more wildlife to spot, discover and learn about!
7. Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden
An award-winning organic garden open to the public all year round, Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden is a haven for nature lovers. There’s four miles of woodland and a stunning private broad to enjoy, as well as nature focused events throughout the year.
Join a photography workshop to help you get that perfect shot, or take part in wildlife walks. Learn from the garden’s own warden, or if you’re feeling adventurous, venture out in the evening for a bat walk. You can even gain a new perspective by hopping onto the water for a wildlife canoe trail! Garden admission is £7.95 for adults and £4.15 for children, with events priced individually.
8. Pensthorpe Natural Park
As the home of BBC’s Springwatch from 2008 – 2010, and set to feature again this year, Pensthorpe Natural Park is the ultimate destination for wildlife enthusiasts. View all kinds of birds from the bird hides, go searching in the wader scrape for insects and migrating waterfowl, or take a walk in the wildflower meadow to hear the happy buzzing of bees, and spot dragonflies, butterflies and maybe even a barn owl.
With outdoor and indoor adventure play areas, and a sculpture trail, it’s a brilliant location for a full day out with the family. Adults £12.95 and children £11.95.
9. Holkham Hall
With 3000 acres (yes, 3000!) to explore at Holkham Hall, there’s an abundance of wildlife just waiting to be found. But the cherry on the cake is certainly the herd of fallow deer that live there. For the full experience, book yourself a ticket for Holkham’s Deer and Wildlife Safari! You’ll get to hop aboard a tractor-trailer for a journey around the deer park and learn from knowledgeable guides about the resident deer. In the early summer months, you may even spot the fawns, or in autumn you might witness the rut. Tours run until October and last 45 minutes, with tickets only £5.