Friday, 16 June 2017

Learning the ropes

While having to stay off social media as a Natural England employee during the election period, the trail continued to change as flowers bloomed then died and invertebrate species came in waves. Just as I got used to seeing one species, the seasons march on and new ones take their place.
Brimstone Caterpillar

The ducks are starting to look a little shabby as they loose their mating plumage, and the grebe pair
Garden Moth Caterpillar
that had been nesting just off the viewing platform, have successfully hatched their chick who now rides around on their back. The terns have settled onto their raft and there are now around 25 nesting pairs, some of whom already have chicks. Sadly this is about half as many as previous years but whether this is due to cold winds keeping them away in Spring or simply a natural population fluctuation, it is hard to say. The black-headed gull pair nesting in the corner of the raft now have three fluffy, speckled chicks which are sweet to see but worry the wardens. While they were incubating the terns and gulls seemed to tolerate each other - the gulls may have even benefitted the terns by helping to keep predators at bay. But now the eggs have hatched there could be trouble on the raft; a tern chick for the gulls makes for an appetising meal.

Blue-Tailed Damselfly
When I first came to the Broad my favourite group of organisms was mammals and while I still feel a lot of love and appreciation for them, working on the trail has opened my eyes to the world of insects. Not only are they fascinating to watch and identify but I've been amazed by how much there is to see if you take your time to look. One group I've taken particular interest in being able to identify are bumblebees - you may notice some of the worker bees seem to be quite small, we think this is to the cold Spring stalling their development. Apart from several white tailed bees which are very difficult to differentiate without very close inspection, most bumblebee species have distinct banding on their abdomen and thorax. As the weather warms they are moving faster and resting less so it can be hard to get a good look but the bright colours of damselflies and dragonflies are easier to identify at a glance, and they've been out in full force along the dykes. While I've been seeing fewer large red damselflies the azure population is still strong and the red-eyed damsels can still be seen flitting about the lily pads as they find mates and lay their eggs off the edge of lily pads. The dragonflies emerged later than the damsels and the black tailed skimmers are currently the most common with the Norfolk hawker a close second in most likely to see due to its impressive size; one of the largest in the country. Seeing them patrolling Larkbush Dyke and fight for dominance has been impressive but nothing compares to the excitement of seeing a freshly emerged dragonfly drying out on a grass stem next to the staff mooring. Unable to fly until their wings have harden they remain perfectly still so is the perfect
opportunity to admire them close up, though they are very soft and vulnerable at this stage. The scene does look a little alien though as the brown nymph exoskeleton they've just emerged from sits just underneath them like a second head. Later, when the dragonfly had moved on, I collected the exuvia to treasure along with the photo.
Newly emerged Dragonfly, not pigmented at
this stage they're difficult to ID but is most
likely a Black-Tailed Skimmer.

One change I'll admit to being a little disappointed in is the movement of spiders. Earlier in the spring Dolomedes spiders - a genera of running spiders who actively hunt rather than spin webs - could be found all along the moorings, basking on leaves. But now the temperatures have risen even more and I can only assume it's become too hot for them there as they've all disappeared. Instead they've been replaced by the banded demoiselle damselfly and the occasional black-tailed skimmer. While a lot of people find the 8 legs and 8 eyes unnerving I've always found them interesting and enjoyed having so many individuals so willing to sit and be inspected by a curious human. I do still see the zebra jumping spider who hunts around the hut quite regularly, and seems to be as fascinated by me as I am by him, but with the important job of feeding to be getting on with they never stay still for long.

Dolomedes spider, moved from the moorings
to appear outside the hut.

Drinker Moth caterpillar
In most plants that line the boardwalk there are countless beetles, caterpillars and flies to find - the guelder rose has been voraciously eaten by the green larva of sawflies; predatory flies often mistaken for wasps. However there are many more that only come out at night such as moths; another group that has always been a favourite of mine. My colleague set out the moth trap the night before so I was lucky enough to try my hand at moth identification. Novice though my skills may be I ID'd 13 different species, all but two of which I'm fairly confident in my identification. Though I did have the help of my colleague who pointed me in the right direction in terms of Family so I didn't have to search the entire book which, for the micro-moths especially, was pretty daunting. Some were coming to the end of their time on this Earth and were looking quite raged and dull, but all were beautiful to look at, especially the Buff-tip who is an impressive twig mimic. Unfortunately moth trapping can't be done too regularly as when the moths are attracted to the white boards of the light trap they become much more visible and vulnerable to birds who, if the traps are put out regularly, may learn to recognise it as an easy source of food.

Buff-Tip Moth, both the markings and the conical
way it holds its wings help it blend in as part of the branch.

As well as improving my ID skills and learning about the wet woodland habitat, I've also improved my public speaking skills, become more confident greeting the visitors to the trail and found that my preconceptions about nature have changed. I'd always thought that while there are so many interesting species out there the chances of seeing any was very small. However I've seen so many species I never expected to ever encounter in person; such as my first real life osprey who'd stopped to feed before flying on to his breeding area, and a ruby-tailed wasp which is a brilliant red and blue, metallic wasp that predates on mining bees much like the cuckoo. Now I've noticed a change in perspective when I'm walking through any green area and I rarely miss a chance to have a look for what can be found in the vegetation lining the path.
One of two Cock Chafers; large fruit eating beetles
who'd also been caught by our light trap

Monday, 24 April 2017

Trail Warden

Back after my Easter break I was immediately on the Broad. It had been open to the public for a few weeks now but it was my first time seeing it through a tourist's eyes. The signs currently lining the route are only temporary since the final articles weren't quite ready in time. This will soon be sorted and these temporary ones give us a chance to hear the visitors' opinions before the final pieces are made. Accompanying the new signs are numbers which reference a small booklet you can pick up at the start which talks more about the habitats, wildlife and broad. The wealth of information available is impressive and really enriches the walk - though it can be completed in about half an hour that amount of time really doesn't do it justice.
The contrast between the lush ground plants and
bare trees that define Spring
I'd missed the busy school holiday period, when the wardens had been meeting around seventy people a day, but there was still a stark difference between the Spring river activity and the emptiness of Winter; when the Nature Trail felt like a secret hideaway we could enjoy by ourselves - as glad as I am that so many people are enjoying the Broads I can't help but miss those days. A variety of people visited the trail and while not everyone took their time to slowly and patiently experience the trail, I hope they all got something out of the walk; there are a lot of wild residents to see on the trail if you're willing to wait for them.

Peacock butterfly bathing in the sunlight
In terms of wildlife the easiest group to see is, of course, birds which at this time of year will be performing some interesting behaviour. As I mentioned in a previous post the mallard ducks are getting ready to lay and this requires not only food but also a mate, and this requires courtship. While pairs like Grebes dance for each other and offer gifts, a female mallard looks for endurance by first loudly egging on the drakes so that when she takes flight they will follow. Naturally having more endurance than the drakes the race is to see who can keep up with her the longest, rather than who could catch her. The greylag geese who live on the Broad are also getting ready for mating season and while we didn't see any of them, we could clearly hear them fighting in the distance as we walked around the trail. The migrating terns, after whom the gravel platform in front of the bird hide is named, are starting to return to the Broad. However it is still early in the spring so instead the Egyptian geese enjoyed the Tern Raft while the terns themselves hunted overhead. As well as seeing the usual gadwalls, coots, robins and one heron, for the first time I saw a pair of long-tailed tits in the treetops. These small birds use feathers, spider's web and lichen to weave incredible nests which take a long time and a lot of effort to make, but are often vulnerable to attack. Because of this some adults find themselves without a nest and not enough time or energy to start again so instead they find relatives and help them raise their chicks so at least, if somewhat indirectly, they still help to pass on some of their DNA that season.
Hoveton Great Broad, soon to be covered by
the growing lily pads

The second most obvious creatures to see are bumblebees; their loud buzzing quickly gives them away so if you stop and look around you should easily be able to spot them. At the moment it is most likely Queen bees that you'll see; collecting pollen for the hive they are soon to create - though the aptly named early bumblebee may already have some workers out and about. The markings of bumblebees are quite distinct making them easy to identify - there are identification posters at the hut at the start of the trail if you can remember what you saw. Along with the Carder bee we also saw a Cuckoo bumblebee, which like it name suggests behaves a lot like the bird and parasitizes other bumblebee nests. There are also many butterflies on the trail including the orange-tip, speckled wood, brimstone and peacock. Orange-tips are easy to spot when flying but they have an interesting camouflage trick for when they land; the underside of their hind wings are mottled and mimic woodland vegetation so when they fold their wings and tuck their orange-tipped forewings behind their hind wings, they are practically invisible. Brimstone butterflies are also leaf mimics and it was actually their eggs I saw, rather than the individuals. If you look closely at the buds of purging and alder buckthorn around the trail you may be lucky enough to see a tiny green egg laid there.
A speckled wood butterfly resting after
aggressively seeing off a competitor
The tooth-edged leaf of saw-grass
As a warden I of course wasn't simply there to enjoy myself so during a quiet patch in the afternoon the other warden and I checked the path of overhanging vegetation. As well as getting in the way of visitors the brambles and rose bushes that also line the path can cause injury, especially if growing at pram height. Though being as it is the plants' home which we are simply visiting it seems a shame, if not downright rude, to cut off every 'inconvenient' branch so where possible we always tried to redirect the plants' growth by bending it behind a tree trunk or something similar. Plant identification is one of my weak areas, so as well as paying attention to the wildlife life I'm trying to learn common plants. For example the red current and black current bushes are very alike but also distinctly different; the latter has red flowers and sharply toothed leaves while the former has green flowers and softer leaves. Both are an important early nectar source for bees and butterflies.

My first of many days as a trail warden was a great one and I look forward to what more wildlife I can see and learn about.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Back on the trail

With April quickly approaching there were still several tasks that needed seeing to before the Nature Trail opened again to the public. Also the dredging work was planned to finish around this time and restart in the winter, but the decision was made to let work continue as it was having little impact on the wildlife and it would always be better to finish the work early. Travelling across the Broad it was surprising to see how little the dredgers seemed to bother the birds that lived there, as I watched swans and ducks swimming right up to the platform completely unfazed, more concerned with the possibility of food. The birds on Salhouse and Hoveton Great Broad are very bold, especially around this time; waiting to be collected by boat on the shore of Salhouse Broad my boots were investigated by a couple of very curious mallards. In the springtime the instinct to mate and breed is strong and this means, especially for the egg-laying females, they are hungrier than ever. This explains why the birds' so readily approach people; not only do they associate people with food more than danger anyway but these Broads have so little plant life due to pollution, so being feed by visitors is an important source of energy for them.
The duck couple who kept me company and tried to eat my boots at Salhouse Broad
It was on the Monday that my luck ran out and it poured with rain. We only had one simple task to do that day - simple on paper at least - but the heavy downpour made sure we were soaked by the end of it nonetheless. Living out in the wilderness for several years, even the thick, heavy sleepers used for the trail don't last forever and some had finally become rotten enough to need replacing. The main problem the wood faces is excavation by ant colonies which hollow them out and give purchase for the fungi and moss to bury their roots in where we can't remove them. When the sleepers are compromised like this they become dangerous, but replacing them isn't easy when the new wood is extremely heavy and must travel across water and through wet woodland to reach their destination. It was during this task I realised the true cost of my little experience; I had nowhere near the upper body strength needed to move the sleepers. I helped how I could, holding bags and opening the boat shed door, but for the most part felt quite useless as I watched the other two wardens. To make the task easier, and less of a health and safety risk, they used strops; loops of thick material they slipped around each end of the sleepers so they could raise them without bending over or risk trapping their fingers underneath.
A section of replaced boardwalk
The second day was brighter, though still a little chilly, and we were joined by a couple more helping hands. While they continued with the task of replacing the sleepers and removing the old ones, I swept the boardwalk. The main purpose of keeping the trail clear of debris is to reveal areas where the chicken wire which covers the sleepers needs patching up, and preparing the sites for repairs. It also removes the moss which has grown on top of the wood, preventing their roots from weakening the wood. Also, on one side of the island some old trees had been removed because their hollow branches overhanging the path were dangerous. Not only was the path covered in sawdust but it also opened up a wide area next to the gate which now needed a fence - it was becoming clear that more than a degree in science what was really useful for nature wardens was a strong back and carpentry skills. On top of these tasks there was also a new tern raft to build; a wooden platform covered in gravel where terns and other birds nested and which had been destroyed by Storm Doris.
The new tern raft, under construction
The third and final day I worked at the trail that week I was back on sweeping and chicken wire duty - which while not exciting I did find oddly therapeutic - but before that we visited the cattle. The boys; Andrew, Manny, Duffy and Bobby had now made a friendly herd with the girls, Marie and Netta. They'd grown a lot since I'd last seen them a couple of months before; all the males now had horns sprouting from their fluffy heads, and had calmed down a lot. Instead of jostling and butting heads they were quite content to sit in their field and watch us approach, quickly loosing interest when it was clear we had no food. Duffy and Mani had formed a close bond and were often seen together. Unfortunately there were problems however; Marie had gotten arthritis in her old age which caused her to limp, and Andrew's intestine was having trouble adjusting to the new pasture - he was the youngest and only just weaned before coming to the Bure Marshes so the sudden change in diet was a shock to his system. But otherwise everyone looked in good condition; thick set with glossy coats. The wardens would continue to keep an eye on them and it would be a job for a volunteer to follow the cattle around for a day, collecting their cowpats for worm testing - time would tell who picked the short straw on that one.

After the heavy rain the weather quickly picked up again and it was lovely being back out on the Broad, watching the plants come to life after winter and seeing the grebes, tuffed ducks, swans and even a heron! Office work would always be an inevitable part of any job but at least my days on the Broad were just as assured as well.

Saturday, 25 March 2017


Natural England is only one of several organisations across the country working to take care of the environment. As well as the Broads Authority and the Wildlife Trust there are independent ecological consultants as well. In our local area representatives of these groups and others regularly get together to form the Broads Biodiversity Partnership, where we listen to talks given by members on the work that they've been doing. It's an important way of keeping up to date with local projects and share expertise; it was here I was told about the PlantLife publication on eutrophication, the issue affecting Hoveton Great Broad.

The meeting started with a talk by a ecological consultant about fen monitoring, research and management - why it's important and how it can be done. He described surveillance monitoring as continuous work to identify long-term changes and requires permanent plots - somewhere you can return to exactly to reduce variation - with stratified coverage of the variation of vegetation and microhabitats in the area - this often requires collaboration between groups so that all bases are covered. Some variables can change very quickly, even weekly, which means monitoring like this should be done on a fortnightly basis; which requires a lot of work and, on top of all their other work, wouldn't be feasible without volunteers and collaboration.

Fens are a key habitat we're trying to recreate on our broad - if you compare Hoveton Great Broad with other water bodies in the area you can clearly see the difference in the amount of reed bed - but they haven't been well studied, simply because the spotlight has been on other habitats and few have considered researching it. Not to mention being a wetland habitat they can be a little more challenging to work in. But with conservation work going on in and around them, and the increasing affects of climate change we need to understand what a fen is besides a marshy, lowland area, how species depend on them and what impacts our work could have on them. Nothing lives in isolation and this is true of biomes more than anything else. Conservation can't be narrow minded, only focusing on the plot of land in front of them, because work in one area will inevitably impact adjacent and downstream habitats. Identifying the need for more understanding is a first step, hopefully next will be the research.

The day after, the Bat Conservation Trust held an update talk on their Bats in Churches Project. For daytime roosting bats rely on old church buildings because there are few natural habitats in the form of ancient woodland left due to logging and the felling of dangerous, hollow trees. Bats are driven out of other potentially suitable habitats due to nearby developments producing too much light and conversions of buildings such as barns into modern housing. Churches are ideal as they remain unchanged for many years so can be used by several generations of bats and the beams, timbers, nooks and crannies provide good perches.

But bat colonies, especially large maternity roosts, can make problems for the people who use the church. The main issue comes from their droppings which are not only unhygienic but also quite acidic so damage the brass and polished wood found in the church. This damage done to the building and artefacts needs to be repaired but often churches have to rely on money they raise themselves from donations - bids for grants are often unsuccessful because the chance of the repairs simply being damaged again is too high. Some congregations try to employ methods of getting rid of the bats such as floodlighting or acoustic deterrents but these are very dangerous to the bats as the light can confuse them so they don't leave the roosts at night and starve, and the noises emitted are usually very loud and painful. In other instances people try blocking the entrances that bats use in the hope that they'll move elsewhere, these are either ineffective since the bats push the blockades aside to return home or trap bats inside the building until they die.

All species of bat are protected in the UK, so it is a criminal offence to disturb or obstruct bat roosts. and we have to remember that it's us encroaching on the lives of wildlife not the other way around. As much as bat roosts do cause problems for the churches they inhabit it is their home and there are ways people can coexist. The Bats in Churches project is working to not only help churches achieve this but also to engage the congregation and change attitudes towards these mammals; they are incredible, fascinating creatures and nothing can compare to the experience of watching them fly around you. Bats are one of my favourite animals and I am very excited about this project, what it's already achieved and what it can still do for many other churches.

Friday, 17 March 2017

A Walk by the Coast

In an office like Dragonfly House where several people need access to the same file for work, files are kept on shared drives. Inevitably, as electronics advance, these shared drives systems need updating and all the files have to be moved onto something new before the old one is shut down and everything on it is lost forever. For us this 'something new' was TRIMM, a file system that prioritised security over usability. As comforting as the extra security is, the need for a full day of training on how to use the system was a strain on everyone so our team leader organised a day out on the seafront.

St Andrew Church, Church Lane, Eccles-On-Sea
The coastal path from Eccles-On-Sea, through Happisburg to Walcott and ending at Bacton was chosen because work had recently been done to make it a part of the England Coastal Path by colleagues at Natural England, specifically in terms of signage. So we set off from our starting point at St Andrew Church for a very windy but sunny walk to unwind and critique the signage that outlined the walk.

The beach was a lovely sandy one, lined with stone sea walls and was surprisingly quiet considering the sunshine. Before we reached the beach we had to make our way through a small residential settlement whose roads had seen better days, not helped by the recent weather which had turned the pot holes into what felt like small ponds. After that though, the first leg was straight forward; simply head along the shoreline to the lighthouse at the end of the beach and you'd reach a grassy area with seating for a rest and a picnic before the second leg, which was less simple.

The Happisburgh Lighthouse
After the lighthouse we walked through Manor Caravan Site and, though we did get back down onto the beach eventually, we were filed along a narrow patch of grass squeezed between a ploughed field and the cliff edge. Though any fences or railings put along this section would have ruined the view the drop, while not life threatening, would still have done some damage to anyone who fell off it. On top of this the view was already marred by the old, eroded groynes which stuck out of the sand like gnarled fingers. But this was only one section of what was a lovely day by the coast; it was a really enjoyable walk and I saw much more of Norfolk's coast than I had done in my previous two years of being at university. Not to mention the pubs, caf├ęs and fish and chip shops we could stop at along the way.

The beach from Eccles-On-Sea to Happisburgh
However, unfortunately, not all the aims of the walk had positive outcomes. The signage, such that is was, had room for improvement. Some signs were done well; noticeable without affecting the landscape and proving useful information about how far you were from settlements in each direction but overall the signs lacked consistency. Other signs were less detailed and a few were easy-to-miss posts in the ground offering even less information. And none of them paid tribute to the organisation who'd put them there.

Testing and collaboration are key parts of any project and even bad news, as unpleasant as it is to give it, can be helpful news. Be it in a team like the Hoveton Restoration Project or an organisation like Natural England, nobody works in isolation. I'd already learnt this in getting contacts for working with bats and it was a good opportunity to test my new way of looking at things and to help out how I could.

Monday, 6 March 2017


After visiting the fish survey team I was back in the office; unfortunately work was more than a lovely boat ride on a sunny day. Though as much as I loved being on the Broad, I was just as thankful for my time in the office. Having the opportunity to sit down with my supervisor and talk about what I wanted to get out of my placement was really helpful, not only in putting it into context of my future, but also in forcing me to plan out my weeks in a more productive way.

Suddenly I had a lot of mini projects of my own to work on and I had more balls to keep in the air than I'd ever done before. But I had a very supportive team around me and the work was something I could get excited about. If science writing was where I saw my future heading then I had many chances to build up my experience. Alongside the project updates on the website and a piece in the Broads Biodiversity Newsletter there were the educational resources I had to work on.

This involved researching a long list of species found on the Nature Trail, starting with moths and spiders - beetles proved a little more difficult to find species-specific information on as most books covered beetles in general, and there are a lot of beetles! This was something I'd always pictured myself doing; reading up on species so I could write something informative for the public about the fascinating lives of the creatures outside their front door. And the long list of invertebrate species promised to keep me busy for several weeks.

However behind this I had a few more opportunities ticking over in the background. While all species interest me, bats are a particular favourite and as part of Natural England I had access to several contacts who could help get me more involved with them. Winter couldn't offer me much but I was promised that the rapidly approaching Spring would provide me more close up experience. On top of that there was more excitement in the form of a potential visit to another LIFE project, much like Severn Rivers Trust had done. Searching the database on the LIFE website, there were so many great conservation projects going on across Europe - it was hard to narrow down the list. But there would be a lot of work to do before this possibility became a reality.

Finally, to help spread the word about our beautiful Broad I was given a small peer group to engage with on my own. Our Access and Engagement Officer - who'd recently organised a very successful press day, despite Storm Doris - would always have my back but inviting student societies at the University of East Anglia to our Broad, was my responsibility. I knew who to contact, I'd been a part of some of them during my first two years, and I had a few ideas of my own for the actual visit. Though as luck would have it our HLF monitor was visiting that week so I saw one of the ideas my supervisor had for what a visit like that could look like.

Before a meeting with our Heritage Lottery Fund monitor on how the project was progressing, we had a little walk around the Nature Trail. The task we were given was a simple one; take the selection of colour cards you've been given and search the Nature Trail for them. It was very effective. For one it slowed us down a lot; you could easily walk round the trail in only a few minutes if you wanted to, and made us really pay attention to the habitat around us. At first glance the winter scene might look drab but it's actually made up of a huge variety of colour; a tree trunk isn't simply 'brown'. Furthermore our preconceptions of what colours we would find were challenged; for a wetland habitat surrounded by water, we found very little 'blue'.

My life wasn't accustomed to being busy but I surprised myself with how much I looked forward to tackling each task and the structured days working in an office like an adult were starting to feel less alien, and more comfortable.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Fish Surveys

For a project like this one it's not just the physical environment that needs monitoring. Surveying the fish populations not only allows us to see how our project is affecting the living organisms that use Hoveton Great Broad but also gives us insight into how they use not only our Broad but the connecting water bodies as well.

Sonar cameras use sound to create a picture instead of light. Sound waves aren't affected by turbidity and can create a very similar picture to light; bouncing off obstructions such as fish and casting shadows. These sorts of cameras are also used offshore to provide information on the sea bed and finding shipwrecks. We use this technology to find out how large the fish populations are and where they are at different times of the day.

Bream, pike and perch are all found in the Broad, though the most common is bream. It takes experience to be able to identify the different shapes and shadows in the picture, but it can provide us with a lot of important information such as size and behaviour. Useful for our project we've been able to highlight how the fish use the water ways. For example in the neighbouring Hoveton Little Broad - or Black Horse Broad - we found bream sleeping there during the day and leaving to feed in the river during the night. This highlights that the different areas are important for the fish for different reasons and the health of each one can affect whole populations.

Usefully for our project these surveys also found a 'fish motorway' at one of the openings to Hoveton Great Broad where there were two lanes of traffic; the large and the small fish either leaving or entering the Broad and different times of day. This information can be used for the bio-manipulation part of the project as we can wait until all the large fish leave; placing a barrier to prevent them from re-entering while allowing the small fish to pass through. Then when the small fish have left we can place the second barrier which keeps all fish species out. Other methods of fish removal will also be used to make sure they've all been removed, but this way we can make sure the majority are out of the Broad without having to catch them ourselves.

Furthermore this survey should highlight alternative water habitats for the fish to use instead of Hoveton Great Broad and make sure that the bio-manipulation, while important for the daphnia populations, doesn't impact the fish too severely.

These surveys are very extensive and take about two weeks. Other methods are used other than the sonar cameras such as electro fishing but I wasn't able to see those myself. The main reason for our visit on that day was to get the boat the surveying team lives in for two weeks, refilled with fresh water and have the toilets pumped. Living on a boat may sound glamorous but when that time is spent working - getting wet and muddy - it can be exhausting. Then it can be the little things that help a lot, such as having your groceries delivered to you by a helpful member of the team, or having someone else restock your boat with water so you don't have to take time out of your day to do it, extending the survey even longer.

It was another pleasant day out, not only did I get to see the sonar cameras in action but I got a tour of the section of the river alongside Horning and, yet again, I had lovely weather for it. Not to mention we also saw the wildlife that lives on the Hoveton Little Broad; mainly geese and swans - which I had never seen fly until that day - but also grebe who honoured us with a view of their courtship dance.