Lockdown 2 (Day 3): Norwich

7th November, 2020

Where is the wildlife? I am able to get out from the city very easily. I have heard Norwich described as the city that is the size of a town that is a village. This is certainly how it feels as I cycle south from the city, across a couple of railway crossings and through a dry ford into the countryside.

Trees burdened by autumn hang over the roads and cycle pathways before hedgerows appear. In strong shade there is the frost on the breath and mist in the air. If any time is spent in the full flood of sun, I get warm quickly. The trick is to keep moving. It is unlikely to see much movement, apart from a wren ducking over a pathway, or country lane to its low-lying nesting site. The most commonly heard birds are blue tits, pigeons and magpies, but there are few of each.

As the trees lose leaf, the sound of traffic is able to penetrate further and it is harder to get away from the rumble of the trunk roads and ring roads on the outskirts of this city. Even with the second lockdown now established, there is plenty of fast-moving traffic. I see a dead grey squirrel to my right and then more centrally on the road, a crumpled, bloodied hare. There is little other signs of wildlife.

In a field on the edge of Stoke Holy Cross a small flock of sheep are each marked with a daub of blue spray paint. They are probably ewes that have been mated with a visiting ram to provide the next generation of lambs. There are around twenty of them. Is this is a reducing flock, one that is gradually being built up, or one that going to be maintained at that size?

Along the route today, which is a mish mash of random turns and fortunately recognised corners, I become aware of the variety of trees. There is one beautiful piece of woodland that comprises a plantation of silver birches. The low Sun breaks through and illuminates the white and black cracked trunks. It has the feel of Eastern Europe. Opposite lush, sunlit meadows, oak copses with their browning leaves, look so English.

When I return to the city I walk to the supermarket. It has a brimming aisle devoted to Christmas themed produce and several aisles that have been stripped bare by customers keen to stock up with essentials during this second lockdown.

On the top of the store building, with an excellent vantage point, is a pied wagtail. I hear sparrows cheeping away in an ornamental hawthorn hedge.

I pass the local professional football stadium and notice that there is a game scheduled for this afternoon. Between “Road Closed” signs and traffic cones, the Swansea City and the home team coaches are parked. No fans are in the vicinity, just a few stewards and plenty of temporary barriers to dissuade anyone from getting close to their favourite Saturday afternoon venue.

A few swans are progressing along the Wensum leaving well-defined wakes. Here and there common gulls sit on the river’s mirror surface.


CLP  7th November, 2020