In September 2011, my mum moved to Costessey (pronounced Cossey) on the outskirts of Norwich, Norfolk. As you can see, this location is not set within the village itself, rather in the countryside between there and the nearby suburb of Drayton. Having walked up the private lane and seen its birding potential, I decided to start patching this area in October 2011.
The patch is on the Costessey House Private Estate (as it is named) and comprises of a mix of deciduous woodland and extensive meadows by the River Wensum (as seen above), which is useful for attracting a variety of wetland and woodland birds. The two meadows include very sparse and mostly low lying reeds and boggy vegetation, although along the Fishermen’s Trail and the outer limits of Costessey Marsh the reeds are taller and more widespread. The map above gives you a sense of the location of the patch, and each of its different parts. To complement the map, below is a glossary of the different parts of the patch. If you are unsure which part of the patch I’m referring to, then you can find out its name and its location here.
Mill Cottages & The Paddocks – Place of residence, with a barn and paddocks. The barn holds nesting Swallow in summer, as well as Pipestrell Bats. The paddocks at the back of the cottages occasionally hold Little Owl, whilst Barn Owl often hunts here.
Mill Lane – Describes the private lane which runs from Mill Cottages through part of Drayton Woods and up to Costessey Marsh, where it peters out. Essentially the path which allows me to access the different parts of the patch, with views right across to Fishermen’s Field, Mill Field and Mill Meadow.
Mill Field & Costessey Mill Sluice – A field largely obscured by trees during most seasons at the very start of Mill Lane and immediately viewable northwards from Mill Cottages. Viewable from the cottage, but only in winter when trees aren’t hiding it from view. Best viewed from Costessey Mill Sluice, allowing for a full scope of the field and also the chance of Grey Wagtail on the Wensum. Subject to flooding which can attract good numbers of gulls and the odd wader.
Mill Meadow – Describes the large meadow adjacent to Mill Lane. It is fringed by Drayton Woods and towards the back of the meadow are a couple small trees. It is pictured below.
Fishermen’s Trail – A small path which runs right alongside both the River Wensum and Fishermen’s Field. It stops at a public footbridge at the top of Fishermen’s Field. On the opposite side of the river to Fishermen’s Trail is an area of reedbeds. It is named Fishermen’s Trail as it used by local fishermen who have access to the River Wensum here.
Fishermen’s Field – The expansive field opposite Mill Meadow which has Fishermen’s Trail going round its periphery. Like Mill Field can flood, as pictured below.
Drayton Woods & Marriott’s Way – Deciduous woods at the top of Mill Meadow and Fishermen’s Field. Mill Lane runs through part of the wood but it is best viewed from Marriott’s Way cycle route above Mill Lane. Marriott’s Way is included within the patch as far east as the Hidden Pools and west as the top of Fishermen’s Trail respectively, both of which it runs alongside.
Witches’ Field – a small field by Drayton Woods with the Wensum running alongside, situated just after Mill Lane goes under Marriot’s Way. It is named as such due to the abandoned cottage nearby, which is known as the ‘Witches Cottage’. The edge of Drayton is viewable in the close distance, as well as Low Road.
Costessey Marsh – As Mill Lane and the woodland part of it come to an end, the extensive Costessey Marsh appears into view. The River Wensum continues to run through this, and there are areas of low lying vegetation and boggy ground scattered throughout. At the very southern edge of the meadows there is another small patch of woodland and a relatively large area of reeds. Its openness allows you to view Marriott’s Way and Old Costessey Fields, as well as Low Road . In the summer months, the meadows are not managed so become very overgrown and largely inaccessible (as pictured below) whilst in the winter months flooding can give them a far more marshy feel if no further management is imposed.
Old Costessey Fields – two extensive fields looking towards Old Costessey village, which can often hold good numbers of Skylark, Stock Dove and mixed flocks of passerines in the winter, one of which is line with the paddocks.
Hidden Pools – Two artificial pools at the very eastern edge of Drayton Meadows. A little distance apart, both are approachable by taking a small path off Marriot’s Way. Pool 1 is the larger of the two, a rectangular pool surrounded by trees which has held Cormorant and had Crane fly over it. Pool 2 is circular and has more potential, placed amongst the reedbeds at the back of Costessey Marsh.
The varied mix of woodland, river and meadows has already attracted a diverse range of species, ranging from wetland/marshland species such as Moorhen, Snipe, Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting and Grey Heron to woodland species such as Jay, Tawny Owl and Green Woodpecker as well as occasional species such as Little Egret and Kingfisher and patch rares such as Crane, Bittern and Yellow-legged Gull. Costessey House Private Estate is a decent site for birds when worked often and well, and this blog in part follows my ramblings around this patch of mine.
NOTE: For a list of species that can be seen on the patch, view here.