Watercolour by Rory Brown
The largest of the Broads, Hickling is situated on the Upper Thurne river system, which holds a significant percentage of the UK population of Common Crane as well as important breeding numbers of Bittern, Marsh Harrier, Bearded Tit and Cetti’s Warbler. In winter large numbers of Marsh Harriers roost in the reedbed north east of Stubb Mill; Merlin and Hen Harrier are also regular visitors.
We often see Barn Owls at dusk patrolling the reed beds for prey and you may see Kingfishers if you are lucky. Interesting mammals include the introduced Chinese Water Deer, Red deer and hard-to-see Otters, all of which have been seen from the property.
All photographs have been taken from the garden at Watersedge or on Waxham beach
Among the many insects are two iconic local specialities – the swallowtail butterfly and the Norfolk hawker dragonfly – though many equally rare, albeit lesser-known, invertebrates also occur. Plants are well-represented, with the important milk parsley: the larval food plant of the swallowtail.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s visitors centre on Hickling Broad is a year-round haven for wildlife. It is easy to spend a day walking around its trails or, in summer, gently whiling away a couple of hours taking in the Broad’s hidden corners on one of NWT’s electric boat tours.
Waxham beach is just 4 miles away and has a large population of grey seals, who haul out onto the sand. Numerous sea birds are to be spotted whilst walking along the beautiful sands.
New born seal pup November 2016. Thanks to Paul Barnett for the shot.