'Buzzard in the orangery': Norfolk nature takes advantage of lockdown

A buzzard spotted in the Orangery at Felbrigg, Norfolk. Wildlife is making itself at home in Nationa

A buzzard spotted in the Orangery at Felbrigg, Norfolk. Wildlife is making itself at home in National Trust properties empty of visitors in lockdown, with some species returning to places for the first time in decades. Image: National Trust - Credit: PA

Lockdown has led to successful breeding seasons for rare wildlife - thanks to fewer visitors at some of the county's natural beauty spots.

The National Trust said a "lack of human disturbance" had seen rare wildlife and plants move into areas which would normally be considered tourist hotspots, with a buzzard spotted in the orangery at Felbrigg Hall.

Elsewhere, the absence of people at Blakeney Point provided a boost for the Tern colony, with the most successful breeding season for 25 years.

A lack of disturbance and nests being more sheltered resulted in more chicks surviving the storms in June, with over 200 Tern chicks fledged, the most since 1994.

Photographers at Blakeney National Nature Reserve have snapped rare photos of mating seals.

Photographers at Blakeney National Nature Reserve have snapped rare photos of mating seals. - Credit: National Trust Images/Hanne Siebers

Ben McCarthy, head of conservation and restoration ecology at the National Trust, said: “We might have been confined to home for much of the year, but Terns, some of our most travelled seabirds carried on with their breath-taking journeys around the globe to reach us.

“We look after some of the largest colonies of these graceful seabirds, but all our breeding terns are in trouble. Little Terns have been declining since the 1980s, and despite last year’s successful breeding it was heart-breaking to see so many nests washed away by summer storms.

“With sea levels rising the area available for terns to nest on is being squeezed. When several years of summer storms are thrown in, the terns cannot raise enough chicks to keep the population going.

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“The contrast in fortunes between the different colonies shows how important it is to look after all their breeding sites.

"We need visitors’ help in looking after terns by keeping away from sensitive areas during the breeding season and letting the terns nest undisturbed. As we expect summer storms to become more frequent due to climate change, our terns need all the help they can get.”

RSPB Little terns

Little terns have enjoyed a bumper breeding year at Blakeney, thanks in part to lockdown - Credit: RSPB

Rangers at Blakeney Point also expect a record year for seal pup births with over 4,000 expected to be born at the nature reserve, beating last year's total of over 3,400.

The high numbers and lack of tourists also allowed photographers at the reserve to capture rare photographs of mating seals.

National Trust ranger Carl Brooker said: "It's quite unusual to get pictures of this, particularly on Blakeney Point because it's such a pain to get to.

"As soon as the females are weened, they come in season, so as they head to the sea the bulls are straight on to them and trying to mate with them, poor things.

"They started declining in 2002 and of course that was 18 years ago so every year some of those pups will come in season now and have their first pups. They come back to the beach they're born on so every five years we're having a new batch of seals coming back and having their pups."

The trust said easterly winds had brought record numbers of birds into the east and the Rufous Scrub-robin was seen in Britain for the first time in 40 years at Stiffkey saltmarshes.

Despite the positive news,  Mr McCarthy warned that the impacts of climate change were already impacting the county's wildlife adding that this was throwing nature out of balance and will have knock-on effects for everyone.

An aerial view of Blakeney Point. Picture: NATIONAL TRUST

Blakeney Point off the north Norfolk coast - Credit: National Trust

He added: "The impacts of climate change are being felt by our wildlife, already under pressure from pollution, habitat loss and inappropriate management, climate change magnifies many of these pressures.

“Changes to the seasons and changeable weather can play havoc with our wildlife, knocking the delicate balance of nature out of kilter with serious knock on effects for us all.

“We are already locked into significant environmental change that means snowy winters will become increasingly rare, whilst extreme events in the summer will add stress to our threatened wildlife.

“As ever there will be winners and losers, however, there are more losers than winners with the abundance and distribution of many species continuing to decrease and some groups particularly vulnerable to climate change."

A little tern chick at Blakeney Point

Little tern chick - Credit: ©National Trust Images/Leighton Newman

A buzzard spotted in the Orangery at Felbrigg, Norfolk. Wildlife is making itself at home in Nationa

A buzzard spotted in the Orangery at Felbrigg, Norfolk. Wildlife is making itself at home in National Trust properties empty of visitors in lockdown, with some species returning to places for the first time in decades. Image: National Trust - Credit: PA



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