In winter, huge mud flats and undisturbed salt marshes can appear lonely, inhospitable locations, though they teem with numerous wildlife.
Even throughout the warmth of summer season, they handle to maintain their distance and distance, and this inaccessibility happily supplies a sanctuary for breeding waders and wildfowl.
The seashores of the northern Norfolk coast are a distinct story in the summertime, when vacationers understandably benefit from the huge, flat sands and even wider blue skies.
The competitors is all the time excessive for the very best spot, and this may result in battle with beach-nesting birds corresponding to ringed plover and tiny terns. Typically their solely probability of success is to search out themselves in one of many specifically roped areas offered by the conservationists, though sadly this nonetheless doesn’t assure security from disturbances.
For naturalists, and all lovers of secluded walks, in winter, when the seashores are freed from crowds, they actually come alive. A large open area someway feels extra spacious. At low tide that is evidenced by the stroll of a mile or so to the ocean and the fantastic horizon that by no means closes.
Winter walks alongside our sandy shoreline assure many fantastic wildlife sightings. In early winter, giant teams of pregnant grey seals relocate themselves to secluded stretches of the seashore to “pup”.
Their solitary offspring are born furry white – not a superb camouflage on sand and gravel, however an adaptation left over from the Ice Age after they had been born on the snow! They’re fed for simply over three weeks, consuming three liters of fat-rich milk every day, earlier than they’re left utterly to fend for themselves.
Later within the winter, the adults will congregate to molt, and that is typically at a website usually used for this exercise. Their presence is accompanied by a powerful fishy odor which is the distinct scent of a colony of deciduous grey seals.
They draw flocks of stonecrops and sandpipers, which hunt for flies and sand hoppers round their lounging our bodies. The little sanderlings’ working is considerably comical, particularly when they’re chased by the foamy folds of the waves.
Packs of them will race on dog-walkers till they get tired of the chase and raise themselves into the air, permitting the ocean breeze to hold them over the heads of the pursuers and again to the place they began.
Behind the smooth flat seashores roll golden sand dunes.
Norfolk Wildlife Belief Holme Dunes is an excellent nature reserve that may be visited at any time of the yr and has one of many UK’s most essential colonies of the uncommon naterjack frog. In winter, the dunes going through the ocean are good locations to search for shore larks and flocks of small, stocky snow bunting. Holme Dunes is a crucial reserve, as lots of Norfolk’s dune methods now lie underneath giant conifer plantations or hyperlink golf programs.
Heading east alongside the coast, the seashores slim to shingle banks. Freshwater puddles and scrapes behind lie within the Klee and Salthouse swamps of the NWT.
Lately, winter storms have breached the shingles, flooding the marshes with seawater. Regardless of this, Cley stays the most effective birdwatching websites within the nation, and uncommon vagrant birds are nonetheless recorded within the reserve. In winter, after a superb breeding yr, the reeds are filled with bearded tits. The mature male is a placing fowl, with a light-weight blue head and a drooping Victorian gent’s mustache.
In freezing and snowy climate, the bittern, normally hiding within the reeds, might be very obliging because it stalks alongside the perimeters of the frozen dike.
Our milder winters now discover our spoonbill who spends the entire yr right here too. They’ve recolonized North Norfolk, which is considered one of their few breeding grounds within the UK. The return of this odd-looking, spoon-beaked fowl has been doable as a consequence of habitat enhancements and authorized protections, making certain that it now not results in glass show circumstances.
Our district’s coast, and its array of wildlife, is enticing all yr spherical, however when cricket logs have been collected on the seashore, windswept folds and towels, for me, the northern Norfolk coast actually comes alive. A protracted winter stroll by means of this Space of Excellent Pure Magnificence might be an exhilarating expertise.
Seashores and dunes to go to this winter
The Norfolk Wildlife Belief Cley marshes and Salthouse Nature Reserve are common with fowl watchers. Yow will discover reed beds, salt marshes, and a pebble seashore, in addition to a customer heart with a present store and refreshments.
Winterton Dunes Nationwide Nature Reserve in England is great for birds, butterflies and a wide range of dune crops. Stagnation swimming pools are residence to natterjack frogs in the summertime.
Holkham Nationwide Nature Reserve is Norfolk’s most unusual, various and dramatic sand dune and seashore system. The huge seashore is a good place to identify birds corresponding to shore larks and snow buntings.
For full particulars of instructions, parking and instances to go to, examine the NWT, Pure England and Holkham Nature Reserve web sites.