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Thompson Common

Home to the Great Eastern Pingo Trail This site is an SSSI, and one of the best dragonfly sites in Norfolk. The pingos are ponds created when buried ice boulders left behind by glaciation melted and caused the ground to slump. They are now home to a wide variety of wildlife, including the largest population of Scarce Emerald damselfly in Norfolk.


You can join the site either at the car park near Stow Bedon or at Thompson Water. We recommend the car park. From Watton follow the A1075 for 6km. Just before Stow Bedon there is a layby on your right, with the entrance to the car park off this layby.


From the car park you have two options: Directly opposite the entrance is a track which follows the old railway line past the old station building, while to your right (as you face this track) is a small gate that leads to a wooded area - take this option.

Passing through the wood will lead you past the first of the pingos, but the shaded conditions mean that the first with real interest is on your right just after you leave the wooded area.

This pond should give Emerald and Scarce Emerald, Common Blue and Blue-tailed damselflies, plus Common and Ruddy Darters.

Follow the trail on and into a large meadow. There is a large pond in the centre, home to Emperor and Brown Hawker. Look also for Broad-bodied and Four-spotted Chasers in the reed, and Southern Hawkers and Black-tailed Skimmers hunting in the field, as well as all the damselflies so far mentioned.

Visiting this pond in late July -Early August is magical, the sheer numbers of dragonflies around you is simply breath-taking, and the opportunity to compare the egg-laying habits of Common and Ruddy darters, or to view Scarce and Common Emeralds next to each other is exceptional.

Leaving the meadow, and the reserve temporarily, the path follows a lane before rejoining the reserve in another pond laden field. Again Emperor, Brown and Southern Hawker, Black-tailed Skimmer, Common and Ruddy Darter are about, with the smaller ponds giving the damselflies.

Passing through the gate at the end of the field, and down a short track will bring you to Thompson Water, a large lake home to Red-eyed damselfly, along with the other species. Look out for the kingfisher here! Passing through the exit on the far side of the lake will bring you to a lane. Turn left and up and you will eventually join the old railway track which will take you back to the car park - but to be honest, you'll see more retracing your steps back through the reserve.


Just down the road from here towards Watton is Wayland Wood (no dragonflies but lots of wildlife), while continuing towards Thetford will bring you to East Wretham Heath (Southern,Brown,Common Darter,Common Blue and lots of butterflies.)

These species have been recorded at this site.

Clicking on the English name will take you to the specific page

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