The Birds of Eaton Park
Eaton Park is home to many wild birds. Its trees, flowers, hedgerows and meadows provide for them a variety of foods and homes. Thanks to Norfolk Wildlife Trust for helping with this overview of birds in the park.
There are many birds that live in the park all year round – blackbirds, blue tits, chaffinches, collared doves, coal tits, fieldfares, goldfinches, great tits, green finches, long-tailed tits, pied wagtails, robins, song thrushes, wood pigeons and wrens. Jays and great spotted woodpeckers are also a common sight. Rarer visitors include redpolls and Britain’s smallest bird, the goldcrest.
On very cold days look out for redwings, large, thrush-like birds that arrive in flocks from the countryside to forage for berries and other food. From May to August you’ll hear the excited shrieking of swifts. Look up and you’ll see them racing round in the sky, chasing insects and tiny spiders.
At dusk you may see a heron on the lily pond. Mallard ducks, mute swans and black headed gulls sometimes visit the boating lake. Gulls paddling up and down on the sports fields are after worms. The patter of their feet makes worms think it’s raining so they come to the surface to avoid drowning and the gulls eat them.
Magpies, rooks, jackdaws and carrion crows are regular visitors. At dusk large numbers rooks can often be seen heading across NR2 and the park to their countryside roosts.
Woodlands and trees
To the west of Eaton Park, beside the pitch and putt, Bluebell Wood is an area of mainly mature oak woodland, where both standing and fallen deadwood is allowed to remain. The woodland is rich in lichens, fungi and mosses and, as well as bluebells, supports uncommon cow wheat.
The park is encircled by beech hedges that were planted when the park was constructed in the 1920s. Trees are planted in avenues and small groups, or stands. There is a great variety of trees – an arboretum for the city. The different species provide food, shelter and nesting opportunities for a wide range of wildlife.
Friends of Eaton Park are developing a small orchard at the bottom of the meadow along the North Park Avenue-side of the park. The first six trees were supplied by Waitrose Norwich. East of England Coop has funded others and the Friends have paid for a couple from their own fundraising.
There are two areas of meadow in the park. The long ground-level miniature railway track takes you through a large and well-established area of meadow. This area is closed to the public apart from on running days, so a train trip is the only way to see this lovely area.
Friends of Eaton Park is developing a second meadow on land alongside North Park Avenue and between the children’s play area and cycle speedway. A new mowing regime has been introduced and we are working with ecologist Aaron Brown to gradually introduce local species.
The rose garden and meadows attract good numbers of insects, especially nectar-feeding species such as butterflies, moths, bees and hoverflies.
Click here for a species list prepared by the Norfolk Branch of Butterfly Conservation during their big Butterfly count held in Eaton Park in 2011.