Video and Photo Gallery: Norfolk’s newest nature reserve opens in Taverham, near Norwich

The newly opened Taverham Mill Nature Reserve and visitor centre. Head warden Simon Wrigglesworth with the highland cattle which help the habitat with their grazing. Picture: Denise Bradley The newly opened Taverham Mill Nature Reserve and visitor centre. Head warden Simon Wrigglesworth with the highland cattle which help the habitat with their grazing. Picture: Denise Bradley

Thursday, May 8, 2014
9:48 AM

For decades, it has been a hidden Norfolk gem - teeming with wildlife, but unknown to most, with just the odd angler venturing in, in search of a spot by the riverbank.

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What you will see at the reserve

• Barn owls , tawny owl

• 8 highland cattle – distinctive creatures and an attraction for families, but their job is to keep grass at a level which is good for voles, thereby providing food for owls

• Bluebells

• Cowslips

• Marsh marigold

• Water iris (yellow flag iris)

• Otters

• Voles

• Greylag geese

• Swans

• Kingfisher

• Little egret

• Kestrels

• Carp, tench, pike, roach, rudd, chubb, barble

• The River Wensum is known to have white-clawed crayfish, and other important, native species.

But now, following a £300,000 investment, a 100 acre site on the outskirts of Norwich has been transformed into Norfolk’s newest nature reserve.

Anglian Water has created the site around an old fishing lodge it owns at Taverham Mill. The lodge itself has been turned into a visitor centre, and a children’s playground is due to open next month.

A hide has also been built, to allow visitors to get close to the area’s wildlife, while there are also two miles of footpaths, boardwalks and bridges through the site, on the banks of the River Wensum.

Features, such as shallow pools, have also been added to encourage wildlife - as well as visitors - to flock to the reserve. It is already home to otters, while a herd of highland cattle have also been introduced, to keep the grass short.

Simon Wrigglesworth, head warden, said: “This is a lovely stretch of the river and we’re delighted that we can now share it with local people.

“It’s a beautiful place to while away the hours. Foxgloves fill the woods around the fishing lake in summer and it’s a great place to see some fascinating creatures too.

“We know there are otters here and the herd of eight highland cattle are great to see, these shaggy beasts also help keep the grass down making it the perfect place for barn owls to hunt.”

Permission for a small car park at one end of the meadow, together with a new access route has also been granted and will be created from next year.

The nature reserve in Costessey Road was opened yesterday by Jean Spencer, Anglian Water director.

She said: “The site has previously had about 10,000 visitors a year which we want to get up to 40,000. We are hoping to attract families from the area.”

Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Natural England and the Environment Agency provided advice to ensure the site was improved for visitors without taking away from the wildlife value of the site.

Taverham Mill joins the other award-winning nature reserves on Anglian Water’s sites, including Rutland, Grafham and Alton Water.

Have you got plans to open up a beautiful part of the region to the public? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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