Norfolk Wildlife Trust at 90
Sir David Attenborough on birdwatching in Norfolk
Get back in touch with nature this year
by NWT Ambassador, Ben Garrod
Norfolk is a myriad tapestry of unique habitats and is lucky enough to boast some of the oldest and best protected natural spaces in the UK. These five are just a taster of what you can expect and hope to see. There’s every reason to get out and visit a local nature reserve this year.
In 1926 Cley Marshes on the North Norfolk coast was the UK's first wildlife trust nature reserve, set up to be held 'in perpetuity as a bird breeding sanctuary'. The pools, reedbeds, shingle beaches and marshes make it one of the most important nature reserves in the UK, for both resident and migratory waders and wildfowl, as well as bitterns and bearded tits. My particular favourite Cley bird is the comic spoonbills. I waited 25 years to see them in the UK and was finally rewarded last year, at Cley.
The visitor centre is open every day from 10am. Entrance ticket to the reserve is £5 gift aid admission, free for NWT members and children.
Read more about the Norfolk Wildlife Trust.
Moving inland from Cley's breathtaking views, one of my favourite places in the whole UK is Hickling Broad. The largest of the Norfolk Broads, Hickling is a haven for plants, insects, birds and mammals. There's nowhere else where you can hope to see majestic swallowtail butterflies and powerful Norfolk hawker dragonflies darting over the water, with groups of hen harriers circling overhead, water deer stalking through the reedbeds, as well as kingfishers, bitterns, merlin, Cetti's warblers and otters.
The visitor centre opens from 25 March to 30 October every day 10am to 5pm. Entrance ticket to the reserve is £4.50 gift aid admission, free for NWT members and children.
Holme Dunes sits on the edge of the Wash, making it the perfect location for more than 320 species of birds. Warblers and wheatears are abundant in spring, whilst finches and thrushes fill the autumnal skies. Otherwise scarce species such as wrynecks and yellow-browed warblers are regularly seen here and when the wind is right, you stand a good chance of seeing hundreds of gulls, skuas and divers flying by, close to shore. With orange-berried sea buckthorn, natterjack toads and even Bronze Age monuments, Holme Dunes always offer beauty and surprises.
The visitor centre opens from 25 March to 30 October every day 10am to 5pm. Entrance ticket to the reserve is £4.25 gift aid admission, free for NWT members and children.
For a real glimpse of wild Norfolk, take a trip to Ranworth Broad, where you have the chance of seeing one of the most majestic sights in the natural world. Walking along the twisting boardwalks and finding the quirky floating visitor centre, you even get to experience the spectacle with a nice warm cuppa. Along with great crested grebes, cormorants, marsh harriers and terns, Ranworth often hosts the iconic and majestic osprey. With the possibility to see one of these incredible raptors hunting unsuspecting fish right here in Norfolk, Ranworth should be very high on your 'to visit' list.
The visitor centre opens from 25 March to 30 October every day 10am to 5pm. Free entry to the nature reserve.
There are many sites in Norfolk where you have a good chance of seeing species that are very hard to see elsewhere in the country. But there are a few places where Norfolk hides real gems - home to species found almost nowhere else in the UK and Weeting Heath is one. Here you can see the stone curlew. This knobbly-kneed, yellow-legged, streaky-brown, glaring bird nests on the short-turfed habitat and is the real star here. It has many common names peculiar to Norfolk, including the Norfolk plover, thick knee and the wailing heath chicken.
The visitor centre opens from 25 March to 31 July and some weekends in August, every day 9.30am – 4.30pm. Entrance ticket to the reserve is £4.25 gift aid admission, free for NWT members and children.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust go Wild in the City
Saturday 21 May – Sunday 5 June
Norfolk Wildlife Trust turns 90 this year, and we are celebrating with a two-week takeover of Norwich. Join us in the Forum and explore our indoor pond for freshwater minibeasts, listen to stories in our woodland stowaway; show you how to best help your garden wildlife; and get arty with terns. We'll also have an art exhibition with renowned Norfolk artists and evening guest speakers.
Norfolk's wildlife will descend on the city – well, not literally – with footage of waders from Cley Marshes, terns from Ranworth Broad and a multi-sensory nature reserve trail around Norwich shop windows. Norwich Castle Museum will be joining in the fun with a special one-day-only 1920s natural history. Pop in any time to the Forum and keep an eye on NWT's website for times of key activities.
Be part of 'The year of Norfolk's nature'
Join now and get 90 days membership free!
To help celebrate the 90th anniversary, Norfolk Wildlife Trust is offering Visit Norfolk users who join in 2016 90 days free membership added to the first year! Membership starts from as little as £2.50 a month (just £3.75 a month for a family), and provides free entry into all our nature reserves across Norfolk.
To join today call us on 01603 625540 or click here quoting the code VISIT90 and we will apply the 90 days free to your new membership.
NWT 90 website
An online hub for NWT's celebration is a brand new website. Here you can explore a timeline of key dates in NWT's history such conservation milestones and species successes and coming soon you will be able to add your own personal milestones or memories of enjoying wildlife with NWT. Our Notable Ninety species of Norfolk will feature together with anniversary films and stories.
It is live now at www.wildat90.org.uk and will be added to continually.
"It is going to be a great year," surmised Brendan Joyce. "We are looking forward to sharing the achievements of many involved in Norfolk conservation who have made us what we are, and to inspiring the future conservationists who will save Norfolk’s wildlife for the next ninety years."