Santon Downham & Lynford Arboretum Walk for some Breckland Specialities with Janice Darch
Saturday 8th February
9:30am to 3:30pm
Meeting Point: Meet in St Helens Car Park (this is about one mile east of Santon Downham village along a track which parallels the Little Ouse River), IP27 0TT, OS Explorer 229: TL826 874. At the time of writing the car park is free. Our second site is Lynford Arboretum where we will park in the free car park on the left hand side, opposite the entrance to the Arboretum, OS Explorer 229: TL822 943. These sites are about an hour's drive from north Norfolk. Take the A148 to Holt and Fakenham, A1065 via Swaffham to Mundford. At Mundford roundabout take the A134 towards Thetford and then take the second turning on the right to Santon Downham. After the rail level crossing and the humped-backed river bridge St Helen's Car Park tuning is tucked in on the left. The car park is on the left after about a mile. We can proceed in convoy to Lynford Arboretum.
Note: The path along the Little Ouse River can be muddy and slippery so wear good walking boots . Telescopes will be useful.
Distance: Approximately 4 miles, 3 at Santon Downham and 1 at Lynford
Description: This two centre excursion will make the best of a winter's day in Breckland. The St Helens Car park area and the habitat along the Little Ouse River is known as being one of the very few sites in the UK where Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers are regularly seen in the early months of the year. Other species that we will try for are Firecrest around St Helen's Church or along the river banks, Mandarin Duck on the river and Crossbills in the conifers. In some years a Great Grey Shrike winters in the area, and if it is there we will look for it but this may mean a detour on our drive over to Lynford Arboretum. Otters are present on the River as well. The walk at St Helens could be up to 3 miles depending on where the Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers have been seen. At Lynford Arboretum we will first go to look at the gravel pits that border the River Wissey as these often host wintering Goosander along with Pochard, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Gadwall, Great -Crested Grebe and Cormorants. We will then go to the Arboretum keeping our eyes and ear on alert for Crossbills in the conifers. The trees are also good for Siskin, Gold and Firecrest. All three species of woodpecker can occur in the Arboretum along with Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Brambling, Chaffinch, tit flocks and our prime objective, Hawfinch. These special birds are frequently seen on top of the trees in the meadow at dusk or at a small drinking pool near the entrance to the Arboretum. There are often good opportunities for photographing passerines in the Arboretum as seed is left on gate post pillars. Our time here will be a stroll of about a mile.
Children are welcome if accompanied by well-behaved adults, but we regret no dogs. To keep the club's carbon footprint small, please consider car sharing.