Monday, 18 January 2016

Cold War Conservation

The North Norfolk coast is famous for its abundance of wildlife. This is because of the chain of almost uninterrupted nature reserves from Dersingham Bog to Felbrigg Estate. These reserves are run by a range of organisations including the RSPB, National Trust, Natural England and of course Holkham Estate.

Holkham NNR borders Stiffkey and last week we joined forces with the National Trust's warden team to conserve the Whirligig. This curious looking structure lies at the far east of the reserve and is the remains of a Cold War rotary launcher which propelled drones over Warham Marsh for target practice.

A spectacular view over Warham Marsh.

It was a beautifully sunny day when we were joined by George, Faith and Helena. The Whirligig was renowned for its abundance of orchids and it was our task to restore the site by removing rank grassland and encroaching brambles. With a combination of brushcutters, chainsaws, teamwork and a roaring fire we cleared over half the area.

Team photo!

We would like to thank the Blakeney Point warden team for their help and for making the day so enjoyable. Fingers crossed that next summer this area will once again be filled with orchids.

 The sun setting over the Whirligig.

Monday, 4 January 2016

2015 was quite a year!

Around this time last year I was interviewed for the Holkham warden position. Little did I know a year later I would be writing my highlights for the year at Holkham. 2015 has flashed past in a blur of summer sun, torrential rain and amazing experiences.
With the start of a 2016 I have decided to reflect on some of my personal highlights
Myself, Andy and Wouter, who was on 
work experience with us last year.

New Species. During my first year at Holkham I have seen some unusual species. Best of all was undoubtedly the Citril finch in May, although the two showy Bluetails later in the year were close second. Pallid Harrier, White-tailed Eagle and our Otter were also highlights; while other exciting creatures included Scarce Emerald Damselfly, a Merveille di Jour Moth and a recently a Red-rumped Swallow. Of course, I enjoy spotting our more familiar species too. Personal favourites include Starlings, Short-tailed Field Vole, Bitterns, Bee orchid and Spoonbills. I can only hope that next year will bring even more interesting creatures to Holkham National Nature Reserve.

Andy's fantastic photo of the Citril Finch.

The beautiful and well camouflaged 
Merveille di Jour Moth

A very cute Short-tailed Field Vole 
we found in a wood pile.

Lots of chicks. Our management and new survey methods have shown success with lots of nesting Lapwings, Avocets, Marsh Harriers and Lapwings. It has been a good year for Natterjacks. The toads had not one but two spawning’s in 2015. With habitat work continuing into the New Year and exciting new projects around the corner our warders are working hard to make Holkham NNR even better for wildlife.

Lapwing chick playing dead.

Volunteers. We would like to say a big thank you to our wonderful volunteers, who have given up there valuable time to help the warden staff. They have played a vital part in keeping the reserve running and have helped keep Holkham NNR in tip top condition for our wildlife.

A few of our hard working volunteers!

Our visitors. Meeting and talking to people who visit the reserve is a highlight of my job, whether they are horse riders on the beach, birdwatchers in the dunes, or walkers just passing through. It is great to chat with all sorts of people and introduce them to our amazing wildlife. Everyone comes to Holkham for different reason but everyone enjoys the peace and quiet and the stunning beauty of Holkham NNR.

The beach has become my favourite 
part of the reserve.

Returning after a long winter break I am looking forward to seeing what the New Year will bring and what exciting new wildlife experiences lie around the corner.