Welcome to my blog. My name is Sean Locke from Norwich and I am autistic. But this does not stop my passion for nature and wildlife. I am a volunteer for RSPB Strumpshaw Fen and I also help out at Mousehold Heath with surveys and I birdwatch whenever I can. Since 2011, i have been writing a wildlife diary filled with my adventures, drawings and photos. Now i have decided to go online to share with you all.
Friday, 9 January 2015
Jan 9th Catton Park, Norwich
Catton Park is yet another of my local patches in Norwich. It is just a short walk from my flat, surrounded by busy roads. This site was created in the 1770's by landscape designer Humphry Repton and is a large grassland area dotted with ancient oak trees and bordered with two wooded sections that stretches three sides of the park. It is a popular dog walking site and many people are already here with their dogs. For me, however, I am here for the wildlife and the ancient trees.
The Catton Eagle
Taking a walk under the tall oaks, beeches and other tree species in the woods can make you feel small yet one with nature. The ground is muddy and the air has a slight chill, brought to me by a winter breeze. It is peaceful. You forget that a busy road is nearby. It is the time to start learning bird sounds (or refreshing your skills if you know the common sounds already like I do) as there are fewer bird species singing at this time of year. I move slow and keeping my footsteps as silient as possible so I can hear more clearly. I cup my ears with my hands to increase my hearing slightly and to direct myself to where the sounds are coming from.
In a wooded area like this, blue and great tits are the most numerous. But, if you want something more exciting than a blue tit's 'seee seee seeee seeeee' or a great tit's 'teacher teacher' to learn, then keep your ears out for loud wolf whistle-like 'weeep weeep weeeep weeeeep' calls. This belongs to the nuthatch, a tree climbing specialist. One was high above me pecking at a branch for food beneath the bark. It showed off it's climbing skills by climbing the underside of the branch without a single feather drooping by gravity. It has adapted claws and feet that can cling onto even the smoothest of bark surface.
Away from the first wood and out onto the open grass field. A handful of giant redwoods stand really tall dotted in different places along the edges of the park. In the centre of the park, however, standing like natural works of art are ancient oaks. Some are hundreds of years older than others and stood with broken or distorted branches. A few look nothing more than dead trunks with short branches, but of course there is no such thing as a dead tree as many things still call it home. They have a lasting presence when you get near them, like elderly people with many stories of their life to tell.
I reach the top of the park, where Catton Hall is sited. I sit on a bench in front of this building and admired the view of the ancient oaks with Norwich Cathedral in the distance. The trees frame the city view perfectly. Humphry Repton designed that on purpose when he created this park.
I continue my way round Catton Park until I came across a pond fenced off to stop dogs from entering. This is a dog free-zone, one of two areas like this on the site. As an anti-dog person, I love this idea. I have an area where I can watch wildlife without someone's dog charging in and disturbing the peace. At this pond, I watched from a bench as blue and great tits take a bath, while long-tailed tits patrol the branches of the surrounding shrubs. I love this spot!
Walking the last section of woodland now, before leaving the park altogether and I find several grey squirrels around me. A few were posing on a branch or groundlevel for me, feeding on seeds. Others chased each other through the trees. This is a game of 'kiss chase', sort of. A female tests the fitness of the pursuing males with a fast chase through the trees. The one that keeps up gets a chance to mate with her.
Just before I return home, I want to introduce you to a giant friend that towers over the street not far from where I live. It is a large beech tree with an amazing labyrinth of a root system. I'm always in awe with it when I pass it. This is an impressive looking tree, I hope no one ever chops it down. I love this tree so much that in November 2013, I drew a picture of it for my wildlife diary that year.