Pioneering wildlife photograher
In 1905, Emma Turner built a houseboat on Hickling Broad, still today the largest reed-bed in England, in Norfolk to photograph the wildlife. Read
Wildlife of Claxton
Mark Cocker vividly charts the natural history of his home village of Claxton in
Claxton: Field Notes from a Small Planet (2005). Review in The Guardian.
Wildlife of Breckland
Mike Toms’ season-by-season personal look at the wildlife around his home in Breckland. From Field and Fen (2015)
Thetford Forest and lynx
Thetford Forest was planted on unproductive agricultural land from the 1920s and is today the largest lowland pine forest in Britain.
The 190km2 forest has been cited as a possible site for the reintroduction if the Eurasian lynx into Britain as part of a move towards rewilding parts of Britain and help control here in the forest red, roe and montjac deer populations.
Ashwellthorpe woods and Ashdie back
Ashwellthorpe wood was the first ancient woodland in Britain to succumb to ash dieback in 2012, a game changer as it proved the disease could spread to unplanted forests. In 2016, scientists identified here the first tree in Britain to show strong tolerance to the disease raising hopes of developing a resistant strain. They named the tree Betty.
The ancient woodland was recorded in the Domesday Book (30 pigs fed in its woodland), but could now be irrevocably changed by the disease.
Ashwellthorpe is noted for its bluebells, a common indicator species for ancient woodlands. The woods are managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust.
Huge rook roost
Buckenham Carrs in Norfolk has probably the largest roost of rooks and jackdaws in the UK with perhaps as many as 40,000 birds. Natural history author Mark Cocker set his evocative Crow Country in this area.
It begins almost casually. A single concentrated stream of birds breaks for the trees, the stands of trees that have remained almost unnoticed until this point. Inconsequential while the drama built all around them, the woods known as Buckenham Carrs have grown steadily darker with the onset of night. Now that they have moved centre stage they have become a brooding cavity in the landscape. The birds pour into the airspace above it in ever-growing numbers, and they mount the air until there are so many and the accompanying calls are so loud that I instinctively search for marine images to convey both the sea roar of sounds and the blurry underwater shapes of the flock. It becomes a gyroscope of tightly packed fish roiling and twisted by the tide; it has the loose transparent fluidity of a jellyfish, or the globular formlessness of an amoeba – one that spreads for a kilometre and a half across the heavens.
Cooker later explains why the surrounding Yare Valley supports so many rooks. In its origin the rook is a bird of the Asian steppes, which spread into Europe with ancient deforesation. Here in the Yare valley is the biggest surviving area of lowland grassland in England and is thus ideal rook habitat.
The oldest footprints found outside Africa, dating 850,000 to 950,000 years old and in this case probably Homo antecessor, were found in 2014 on Happisburgh beach in Norfolk, one of the fastest-eroding stretches of the British coast.
From Roger Deakins Wildwood:
During the 1880s so many people crowded on to trains from London to see the hotly blushing hilltops above the cliffs from Cromer to Overstrand that the resort was successfully promoted as ‘Poppyland’.
The Cromer Forest-bed is world-renowned for the thousands of fossils mammals such as mammoth, rhino and hippo that have been discovered over the last 250 years” here
The oldest and largest mammoth ever found in Britain was unearthed in 1990 in the cliffs of West Runton. The animal was a steppe mammoth (Mammuthus trogontherii) would weighed twice a modern African elephant.
Cormorant fishing in Thetford
“The first account of cormorant fishing in England dates back to 1610 in a French-speaking description of a tour of Duke Ludwig Friedrich of
Württemberg-Mömpelgard. On 8th May the German nobleman stayed
Then His Excellency dined with His Majesty, and after leaving the table they drove to the river in a coach, where they watched cormorants – birds diving into the water on a signal of their master, who trained them, and catching eels or other fish, and are initiated by another signal to hand them over and spit them out alive – a wonderful thing to be witnessed.