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East Anglia Future 50

Former glacial lake has become a valuable haven for Norfolk wildlife

Ben Potterton of The Otter Trust at Dickleburgh Moor Nature Reserve. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Ben Potterton of The Otter Trust at Dickleburgh Moor Nature Reserve. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2016

A growing nature reserve in south Norfolk has acquired more land which will help its owners manage habitats for the site's treasured wildlife.

Red Poll cattle at Dickleburgh Moor Nature Reserve. Picture: Ben Potterton,Red Poll cattle at Dickleburgh Moor Nature Reserve. Picture: Ben Potterton,

The Otter Trust's latest land purchase at Dickleburgh Moor Nature Reserve completes its ownership of the 50-acre former glacial lake near Diss.

Since acquiring the first part of the site in 2016, the trust has spent more than £400,000 on buying land, maintenance and livestock, and its staff have completed 400 hours of work to improve management of the wet meadows and reconstruct a ditch system to manage water levels by flooding specific areas to benefit particular plants, insects and birds.

The additional land means the trust can now maintain nine acres as permanent shallow water to benefit both breeding and wintering water birds.

Trustee Ben Potterton said there were already indications that the habitat improvements are working, with 15 pairs of lapwings nesting in the first meadows, and an increase in water vole sightings.

Lapwing chicks being fitted with leg rings as part of a wader study at Dickleburgh Moor Nature Reserve. Picture: Ben Potterton,Lapwing chicks being fitted with leg rings as part of a wader study at Dickleburgh Moor Nature Reserve. Picture: Ben Potterton,

“The key to our success with waders is that we graze throughout the year with traditional livestock breeds,” he said. “We have a herd of Red Poll cattle, a flock of Norfolk Horn sheep and two Suffolk Punch Horses and between them we are able to manipulate the grazing heights to suit the birds.

“Our livestock give us a limited income that enables us to complete annual maintenance works.

“Our aim was to protect the site from further development, but continue the traditional farming methods and links to the community.

“We have chosen to maintain our grazing marshes in a traditional way, but we want people to realise the lapwings are there because of the way the land is managed. It has become an important tool for education.”

Suffolk Punch horses at Dickleburgh Moor Nature Reserve. Picture: Ben Potterton,Suffolk Punch horses at Dickleburgh Moor Nature Reserve. Picture: Ben Potterton,

Although currently closed to visitors, the trust is in the process of creating a public access path along the reserve's northern boundary which will enable walkers to view each of the habitat areas without disturbing the wildlife.

A series of free guided monthly wildlife walks will start on May 13, allowing people to see the wildlife and livestock, access private parts of the site, and gain a greater understanding of the Otter Trust's work with a wide range of aquatic species in the Waveney Valley.

• The walk on May 13 will start from 7pm, meeting at the car park at the north end of Norwich Road in Dickleburgh. For more details, see The Otter Trust's Facebook page.

Norfolk Horn sheep at Dickleburgh Moor Nature Reserve. Picture: Ben Potterton,Norfolk Horn sheep at Dickleburgh Moor Nature Reserve. Picture: Ben Potterton,

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