A favourite place

It’s hard not to love a robin, however many one sees – and Brenda and I certainly saw a good number today when we spent a couple of hours at Lynford Arboretum, near Thetford – a place we have often visited since we first discovered it in about 2000 when we were living a few miles away. It’s a mixed woodland habitat with a lake, open meadows, some cultivated land, and all edged by Thetford forest. The area is home to a lot of specialist birds, such as crossbill, hawfinch and firecrest. While we didn’t see any of those today we were treated to great views of marsh tits and one new species for the year, green woodpecker.

a marsh tit sporting its glossy black cap

We also caught up with a small flock of siskins with a single redpoll with them too, and both nuthatch and treecreeper.

although an invasive species grey squirrels can still be photogenic!
snowdrops at Lynford arboretum

Brenda writes: “Lynford Arboretum is a most wonderful place. Set in the grounds of Lynford Hall it is now owned and run by the Forestry Commission. We love walking up through the pines and then down beyond the lake where the paths overlook fields with pools, clumps of trees, scrub, all the variety of habitat wildlife needs, alongside providing grazing for animals. There was a field of highland cattle today. The lake was still mostly frozen so, apart from a mute swan standing on the ice preening, and a lively group of mallards splashing around by the bridge, there wasn’t a lot to see but there’s always the lovely view across to the hall, which is now run as a hotel. Reading the tags on the trees often gives information about when they were planted. A row of young common oak, all planted in 2010, caught my eye. An additional board explained that these are the ‘Cathedral Oaks’. They have been planted for the specific purpose of providing wood for repairs to the four cathedrals within 40 miles of Lynford – Bury St Edmunds, Ely, Norwich and Peterborough. They will not be harvested until the latter part of the 22nd Century, so we won’t be around!

a view from the arboretum over part of the MOD training area that runs alongside

The last few times we’ve been at Lynford I’ve been fascinated by a series of boards showing beautiful images of the huge variety of seed pods, leaves, pine cone shapes and tree bark found on the site. I marvelled at the variety but was puzzled that the different species were not labelled. What were they for? Part of an education programme? Was it a quiz? Today I finally found the answer, picking up a booklet from a rack on the way back to the car. In 2019 the Forestry Commission celebrated their centenary and these boards are an art exhibition called ‘The Art of Trees’. They have been created using artworks painted by the volunteer artists of the Bedgebury Pinetum Florilegium Society. Bedgebury National Pinetum in Kent is a globally important site for the conservation of species and Lynford is similarly important, having at least one species of tree that is extinct in the natural environment. Now I understand the boards and next time we visit I will go armed with the booklet, which has a useful index of species at the back.”

We’ll undoubtedly be here for several more visits over the course of the year.

New species for January 27th:
Birds: green woodpecker

Birds = 110
Moths = 0
Wildflowers = 11