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9 wildlife highlights from Norfolk in 2019

PUBLISHED: 15:41 02 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:58 02 January 2020

From baby flamingos too a record year for a seal colony, here are nine of Norfolk’s wildlife highlights from 2019. Picture: PA/submitted

From baby flamingos too a record year for a seal colony, here are nine of Norfolk’s wildlife highlights from 2019. Picture: PA/submitted

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From baby flamingos to a record year for a seal colony, here are nine of Norfolk’s wildlife highlights from 2019.

Scenes from the Wader Spectacular at RSPB Snettisham. Picture: Matthew Usher.Scenes from the Wader Spectacular at RSPB Snettisham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

1. Baby flamingos at Pensthorpe

Earlier this year the first flamingo egg hatched at Pensthorpe Natural Park, near Fakenham.

While 14 eggs were laid two weeks before, only one was fertile, leaving the chick to hatch late in the season.

Flamingos rear Pensthorpe's first flamingo chick. Born late in the season, the chick faces a struggle PICTURE: Steve AdamsFlamingos rear Pensthorpe's first flamingo chick. Born late in the season, the chick faces a struggle PICTURE: Steve Adams

Chrissie Kelley, head of species at Pensthorpe, said: "We're thrilled we have our first hatching here, and hopefully it means more next year."

2. Sculthorpe Moor expansion gets underway

Sculthorpe Moor, near Fakenham, is lesser known than some of Norfolk's other larger wildlife reserves, yet is internationally recognised for its work.

A diverse range of wildlife thrives in the reserve's rich habitat of woodland, fen and reedbeds.

Midsummer sun rising over the newly purchased area of Sculthorpe Moor nature reserve. Pictures: Andy Thompson.
Midsummer sun rising over the newly purchased area of Sculthorpe Moor nature reserve. Pictures: Andy Thompson.

Now, the reserve is planning to purchase the land either side of the current reserve and ensure it is protected from private development, is fully accessible to the public and is managed to ensure wildlife can thrive.

3. Removal of 'excessive' netting at Bacton

North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) installed netting along a 1.3km stretch of Bacton cliffs to deter birds during work on the Bacton/Walcott Coastal Management Sandscaping scheme.

But the netting stopped sand martins from nesting and hundreds of people across the country protested against it.

After the increased pressure from the public, on April 9, NNDC made the decision to remove some of the netting from the cliff.

Bacton cliffs where netting has been put in place which will stop Sand Martins from nesting. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodBacton cliffs where netting has been put in place which will stop Sand Martins from nesting. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

4. Purple emperor butterfly return to Foxley Wood after 'extinction'

Experts confirmed the purple emperor butterfly returned to Norfolk's largest ancient woodland, once its stronghold in the county, nearly 50 years after it was declared extinct in the county.

This confirmed sighting by Butterfly Conservation in Foxley Wood not only heralds a successful restoration, but it adds weight to the belief the butterfly is potentially breeding again in Norfolk.

Head of nature reserves at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, John Milton said: "Despite nearly 30 years as a conifer plantation, the restoration of Foxley Wood has made it hospitable once again for this impressive butterfly."

5. Record year for Blakeney Point

Purple Emperor Butterfly. Picture: The National TrustPurple Emperor Butterfly. Picture: The National Trust

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A record number of grey seal pups have been born in Blakeney Point during 2019, the National Trust has said.

Rangers said 3,068 pups had been born in 2019, beating the total of 3,012 in 2018.

The trust believes the colony's remoteness and the absence of predators could be reasons for its success.

A few shots taken from Blakeney Point and the sunbathing seals, a funny tern and paraglider flying over Sheringham beach just before sunsetA few shots taken from Blakeney Point and the sunbathing seals, a funny tern and paraglider flying over Sheringham beach just before sunset

6. Ospreys at Ranworth Broad and the Tipping the Balance project

In August visitors on boat trails at Ranworth Broad were lucky enough to spot an osprey.

One or two ospreys usually pass through Ranworth each autumn, and though none have nested there yet, the hope is that one day they will.

Ospreys fish by sight, so clearing the water as part of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Biffa Award funded Tipping the Balance project should help encourage more ospreys to Ranworth.

An Osprey fishing. Picture: Gavin Bickerton-JonesAn Osprey fishing. Picture: Gavin Bickerton-Jones

7. Wader spectacular as migrating birds return to Norfolk

As summer fades, migrating waders from Scandinavia arrive on the mud flats at Snettisham.

Knots might not be the biggest of birds but some travel thousands of miles to reach our shores.

Numbers of waders present on the Wash fluctuate through the course of the year, with the greatest numbers generally being present from mid autumn to mid winter.

Scenes from the Wader Spectacular at RSPB Snettisham. Picture: Matthew Usher.Scenes from the Wader Spectacular at RSPB Snettisham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

8. David Attenborough says Cley Marshes one of his favourite places to visit in the world

Sir David considers Norfolk's Cley Marshes to be "one of the great places in Britain to see wildlife" according to an article written in The Travel.

The article said: "The great man has spoken about how this area, although protected, is severely at risk of change due to its proximity to the coast and effects of climate change.

"Attenborough has also stated the ironic pleasantry that the Norfolk Wildlife Trust was founded the same year he was born - 1926."

9. Farm wildlife transformation wins national conservation award

Sir David Attenborough (C) David Parry/PA WireSir David Attenborough (C) David Parry/PA Wire

A Norfolk farm which was transformed from a lifeless "prairie" into a wildlife-rich oasis has won a national accolade for its outstanding commitment to environmental management.

Charles Inglis, of Hole Farm at Hempstead, near Holt, has won the Silver Lapwing Award, presented by the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) to recognise farmers who go the extra mile to protect and enhance the countryside, alongside profitable food-growing enterprises.

Now, the huge open fields have made way for a mosaic of insect-rich hedgerows and woodland, around arable crops fringed with floristic margins and wild birdseed plots, and dotted with 14 new ponds - all of which provide food and habitats for a rich abundance of bird and insect life.


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