Norfolk, UK - 12-17 April


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April 19th 2022
Published: April 20th 2022
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Norfolk 12 - 17 April 2022



We have enjoyed our journey around North Norfolk and have returned to several of the nature reserves as each time you visit you spot something different. There are so many reserves to see but we really enjoyed both Cley Marshes (NWT)and Titchwell Marsh (RSPB) so visited these sites on more than one occasion.



CLEY MARSHES



On our second visit to Cley we also walked around Walsey Hills NOA. This small reserve is situated just to the south east of Cley NWT so can easily be combined. Being located close to Cley’s East Bank, the site offers superb views across the coastal marshes and across Snipes Marsh to the woodland of the North Foreland. On the day of our visit we came across a little Chiffchaff caught in a net and informed the local ranger who caught him to ring. However she said that it was the same one she had ringed a while ago - the little chiffchaff seemed quite happy to stay on her hand before flying off - hope he stays clear of the net this time. Bird ringing generates information on the survival, productivity and movements of birds, helping us to understand why populations are changing.



We enjoyed a visit to Attleborough to meet Paul’s cousins and on arrival back at our holiday school-house we were surprised by a muntjac deer enjoying the vegetation in the garden - in fact we often spotted deer or hares in the garden enjoying the grass - didn’t really need anyone to mow the lawn … … such a lovely spot. We have never seen so many deer as well as hares they must be making a comeback. Butterflies were also starting to emerge as the weather was warming up and I was delighted to spot several beautiful Orange-tip males one of my favourites.





TITCHWELL MARSH



On one visit to Titchwell we were really lucky and spotted the illusive Bearded Reedlings (Bearded tits). I just love the colour of these birds and was really disappointed that after seven visit to a local reserve in our home county of Hampshire never to spot them but we did eventually get lucky on our eighth visit … … .. At Titchwell we saw them on our second visit and could not believe our luck - a group of the birds were foraging along the reed bases and caught our eyes.



A striking long-tailed bird that lives in the tall reed beds they look like no other species and are quite a unique bird. They have bright cinnamon-brown plumage, a long tail, and yellowish bill; the male has a blue-grey head and broad black moustaches on its face - hence its name, bearded reeding or bearded tit. Not easy to see amongst the tall reeds they blend in perfectly but they do sometimes come up to feed on the reed bed edges, often very low down and if you are really lucky you will spot them nearer the top of the reeds as we did.



On our way back to our car we spotted a group of firemen making their way along the path, apparently a couple had ‘strayed’ on to the salt marsh and got stuck … … These silly people had caused so much trouble and expense, involving four fire engines and two police cars to get the couple to safety!!





SMALL VILLAGES AND STATELY HOMES



Our accommodation on the edge of the village of Saxlingham was quite isolated and extremely peaceful. There was not much in the village just a few large houses and of course the usual village church, although this was rather plain compared to many of the other nearby village churches, that being said it was rather grand for such a sleepy village. We enjoyed several walks directly from the school-house particularly one that took us across several fields and through a wooded copse before arriving at Bayfield Hall - an 18th Century country house set in 120 acres of parkland. The hall was quite magnificent with a tranquil river running along the front facade with the nearby ruins of the medieval church of Saint Margaret, which was the parish church for the lost settlement of the village of Bayfield, which once stood around the now ruined church.



Norfolk’s history of wealthy landowners means a legacy of magnificent stately homes that are open to the public. Of course the most well known one is Sandringham which we passed on our way here, the Royal family’s country retreat its a truly amazing building. Other grand residences include, Holkham Hall; Houghton Hall, the home of Britain’s first Prime Minister, and the National Trust owned Blickling Hall, Felbrigg Hall and Oxburgh Hall. We had planned to visit several of these but the weather has been so good we have spent our days outside enjoying the nature so will definitely have to return to the area in the future.



BLAKENEY





Blakeney Point (National Trust) - renowned for its colony of common and grey seals, the 3.5-mile sand and shingle spit of the National Trust Nature Reserve at Blakeney Point can only be accessed by boat at high tide from Blakeney and Morston quays - we didn’t take a boat to see the seals but decided to walk around the Blakeney Freshes which comprises of approximately 160 hectares of freshwater grazing marsh. It is an important area for ground-nesting breeding birds and over-wintering wildfowl, with lapwing and avocet raising chicks in the surrounding fields. Some of it is closed to public access for grazing but the National Trail Norfolk Coast Path goes around the perimeter and gives spectacular elevated views. We were again lucky with the weather and enjoyed a long walk around the marshes spotted many different birds and lots of Marsh Harriers hunting their prey. We also spotted several Wheatear which had just arrived. Wheatears spend winter in tropical Africa, then head north in spring before returning to the UK during March/April.



Blakeney is also home to water voles and otters but we did not get to see any but have been lucky with seeing otters in our home county this year - in fact the first time we have ever seen them in the wild in the UK.



GLASS EELS



Making our way back to our car we came across a couple of National Trust rangers on the marshes dipping buckets into the water … … …

Ranger Carl has been monitoring the number of Glass Eels passing through the freshwater marshes at Blakeney for a number of years and as they tipped the contents out of the bucket into a tray we spotted a large number of eels swimming around. Such an amazing creature they are completely transparent, so much so that you can clearly see their red heart and lungs through their body. In just a few weeks, as the eels journey upstream, they will become pigmented. The rangers monitor their numbers in conjunction with Norfolk Rivers Trust all the way through Blakeney and into the River Glaven.



Its really astonishing that these amazing creatures have spent 18 months travelling from the Sargasso Sea near Bermuda to feed and grow in the fresh water here in Norfolk … .. … The eels can live for 5 - 20 years eventually returning to the Sargasso Sea to spawn for a single time before dying - isn’t nature awesome and so hard to comprehend.



LANGHAM DOME



One our way back to our accommodation we noticed this unusual large circular building on the side of the road and stopped to find out what it was as it looked rather out of place in the flat landscape.



RAF Langham was an active airfield for 18 years playing a key role in both Wold War 2 and the Cold War.



From Farm field to air field - In just sixteen months, starting from November 1942, Langham was transformed from a simple grass landing strip to a ‘Class A standard’ airfield. Three concrete runways were built, long and strong enough to take the pounding of heavily laden aircraft as they took off and landed.



The construction work at RAF Langham was part of the great rash of airfield creation that erupted across the UK in 1942/43. At its busiest, in 1944/45, RAF Langham had more than 140 buildings. These ranged from aircraft hangars to bomb stores, workshops and latrines. Three concrete runways dominated the site, encircled by a perimeter road 3.4 miles long.



So what was the dome itself well this intriguing building utilised innovative technology to train anti-aircraft gunners. Long before ‘digital virtual reality’ was invented, moving images projected onto the inside of the Dome taught the trainees how to shoot down enemy aircraft successfully.



At the site you can walk in the footsteps of the service men and women who were stationed at Langham during and after World War 2 and hear stories of their bravery and sacrifice - worth a look if you are in the area and you cannot miss the dome building as it stand out beside the road.





TIME TO LEAVE



Sadly it was all too soon and it was time to leave our little isolate school-house to head south again. We were going to call in to see our friends Leithan and Joy who have recently settled into a village near Norwich for a few days before heading home to Winchester.



SCULTHORPE MOOR



On the way though we stopped at Sculthorpe Moor which was recommended by several rangers to us and we were so glad we did. Our good friend Sue had also visited the moor a couple of weeks ago and seen a water vole but we were not as lucky but did get to see lots of wildlife including several colourful Bullfinches - the male in his breeding feathers is something to see.



We saw several deer on the trails and heard our very first Cuckoo - what a lovely sound they make. In general terms, the cuckoo's first call of the year is usually heard around mid-April; April 14 is often known as Cuckoo Day because, by tradition, this is generally the date its voice is heard for the first time in any new year. We heard the one at Sculthorpe Moor on the 15th April so only a day late …. …. .



Sculthorpe Moor is internationally recognised for its wildlife. The reserve is located in the beautiful Wensum Valley in Norfolk, and is a marvellous, peaceful place with a huge variety of wildlife in a rich and unusual mosaic of woodland, fen and reed bed habitats. We have never seen so many extremely large bird-feeders they must spend a fortune in bird seed as they were all very well stocked.



We stopped at several including an elevated, tree-top hide with an aerial walkway. The reserve had excellent footpaths and was really easy to explore - as they say small but perfectly formed.



A huge metal fence was being erected which was extending the reserve - one of the volunteers told us that on Thursday they were expecting a family of Beaver to arrive - exciting times. The reserve has obtained a licence to introduce Beavers into a 53-acre fenced enclosure as for many years there have been major issues with flooding resulting in closure and lost revenue not to mention the damage the excess water has caused to the flora and fauna. It is hoped that by using the family of Beavers and other mitigation works it will improve the biodiversity of the reserve itself, the floodplain and the watercourse - let hope it works as its a great project.



With so much history, amazing diverse scenery and of course wonderful wildlife North Norfolk is a great area to visit - there is so much to see and do and so we will have to come back one day - hopefully we may see you there … …



Cheers

👣Paul & Sheila

Silvernomads


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24th April 2022

Wildlife
Wow, this was such an educational read for me! I learnt so much about the wildlife and birdlife of North Norfolk, as well as its attractions - all very interesting! I loved reading about the Glass Eels in particular. And great photos to accompany and illustrate too! It seems like you had an amazing time in North Norfolk 😊
25th April 2022

Wild Norfolk
Thanks Alex - yes North Norfolk is definitely a great place and we are sure we will return quite soon too. Happy Travels to you - Sheila

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