North Norfolk estate features on BBC show

Pink-footed geese in Norfolk and Matt Baker from Countryfile

Countryfile came to Norfolk this week to experience the wildlife and farming at Holkham Hall. Picture: Pink-footed geese and Matt Baker. - Credit: Archant/BBC Studios-Pete Dadds

An estate in north Norfolk and its wildlife has featured on a BBC programme.

The episode of Countryfile filmed at Holkham Hall aired on Sunday, February 20.

Another episode was filmed at the hall in September 2021 for a special BBC Children In Need episode.

Matt Baker and Joe Crowley travelled to the north Norfolk estate to learn about the estate's wildlife and farming.

Matt Baker called Holkham a "vast mosaic landscape of farmland, woodland, salt marsh and sand dunes."

Joe Crowley called it "a truly stunning location where conservation and food production go hand in hand."

The Holkham Estate is 25,000 acres and has one of the largest privately-owned national nature reserves in England.

Every winter, the estate is home to 100,000 pink-footed geese who migrate from Greenland and Iceland.

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The birds come to the area in part due to the quantity of sugar beet plants available. However, changes in farming are threatening the previously symbiotic relationship.

Holkham Hall, at the heart of the massive estate twice the size of Norwich which is owned by Thomas

Holkham Hall in north Norfolk - Credit: Ian Burt

Joe Crowley heard about how there isn't enough sugar beet to feed all of the geese. 

This is due not only to an increase in geese numbers but also because there is less sugar beet being grown, less wastage due to change in the way it's processed and less time for geese to eat due to fast turnover.

Matt Baker also learnt of a more exotic animal that benefits from Holkham's foliage.

More than 2,000 acres of the land are woodland, mostly a Mediterranean tree that is part holly and part oak.

The pruned evergreen branches are sent to London Zoo to feed the two giraffes and three okapis. This relationship has lasted more than 60 years.

Matt Baker also explored the lost and buried ponds of the estate being restored by the Holkham team.

They are aiming to bring biodiversity back to farmed lands by reintroducing local plants not seen for decades or centuries and wildlife.

These plants are found through seeds in the soil of buried ponds that have laid dormant.

The episode also looked at some of the other animals on the estate including ponies, Belted Galloway cows and natterjack toads.