Advice for Biologically Inclined Freshers: Where to Go on Campus to See the Best Wildlife.

By David Winlo

Hello and welcome to the University of East Anglia, and this, its online student life magazine, The Broad! If you’ve seen the university already on the internet or on one of its open days, you’ve probably seen an awful lot of concrete. Now don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy seeing the campus when I come in for lectures, but there can be times when particularly an ecology student like me, or another student of the BIO and ENV schools, can grow tired of man-made structures, and want to plan a little field trip for some respite.

But where can you go? The BIO and ENV schools themselves are housed in a long, concrete building, accessible on both sides via… more concrete. So does this mean you’re stuck, trapped like the last thylacine by concrete and metal? Fortunately, my friends, it does not. For one thing, the campus has some indoor areas which provide some lovely and often refreshment-based relief from the exterior concrete, about which you may find out more while you’re here. As well as this, the campus, Norwich, and Norfolk all feature some great green areas, to which this article can guide you.

The first one of these to know about is definitely our namesake, The Broad. This takes around an hour to walk around, more if you’re taking your time and enjoying all the wildlife you’ll be seeing. Invertebrate-wise, I’ll admit things are about to calm down a bit as we head into winter, but in the summer, you’ll get a great variety, from multiple species of dragonfly to a ‘selection’ slugs. If invertebrates aren’t really your thing, and birds are, I can tempt you with a couple of my favourite spots from the last three years, those being a good few great-crested grebes, and some kingfishers – two of my favourite British birds. The Broad is also home to some amphibians, and even reptiles, with some terrapins still thriving in there having been introduced some time ago. If you’re very lucky you may even see otters in the rivers running by The Broad.

Down the very end of Chancellor’s drive, past where the buses turn around, there is another forested area, containing enough fungi to be worth an exploratory seminar in my first year, as well as another field trip looking at the plant life. In one of the fields by this forest, there were enough blue and grey tits for a study on optimal foraging in my second year, made all the more interesting (or infuriating for the study) by the appearance of multiple greater-spotted woodpecker, a buzzard, and a couple of flashes of blue which, I was assured, were more kingfishers. These two habitats show that it is worth revisiting places your lecturers take you to on field trips, just for fun, if not also to study from time to time.

Another great place to go if you’re interested in nature is the somewhat secluded law school. It’s great for group study sessions, and better for a quick walk through park-like habitat, with some nice scenery and in my own experience, some unusual moth species. This is a particularly convenient stopping point if you’re living in the student village, as it isn’t too big a detour, depending how far you want to explore, that is.

With all these and more exciting natural places within walking distance, there’ll almost never be a time when you can’t get somewhere a bit less hectic than the square.

ImageKingfisherby coniferconifer is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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