New reserve would prove a boon to birdlife
Will you help to support a campaign to create the UK’S largest wetland reserve?
BIRDWATCHERS ARE BEING urged to get behind an appeal to help create one of the UK’S largest wetland nature reserves, in Suffolk. Carlton Marshes is a Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserve, just outside Lowestoft, and only a few metres across from another reserve, Oulton Marshes. Now, an appeal is in full swing to raise £1 million, which will secure a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to buy farmland adjoining the reserve. The money needs to be raised by next spring. The eventual goal is to create a 1,000-acre reserve that will act as a haven for wildlife in the Broads. Some of the new land – Peto’s Marsh – would be used to create an extensive reedbed, which it is hoped would attract breeding Bitterns (males have been heard booming a short distance away) and Marsh Harriers. Cranes, now breeding in good numbers in Norfolk, are another target species for the future. The expansion will build on work done at the reserve in recent years, creating new scrapes, which has boosted breeding waders, as SWT Broads warden Matt Gooch explains: “The scrapes are doing well. We’ve had Black-winged Stilts here, plus Cattle Egret, Great White Egret and Ruff, stuff like that, and there are plenty of Lapwings and Redshanks. Marsh Warblers regularly stop off here, too, and we get all sorts of wildfowl and waders passing through.” As I watch with Matt, a Hobby swoops low over the scrapes, apparently trying to flush some of the small birds such as Sky Larks from the adjoining grassland, rather than chasing the Sand Martins and other hirundines; but there’s also plenty of dragonfly prey for them. Barn Owls breed here in good numbers, and Cetti’s and Sedge Warblers are noisily obvious throughout our walk around. As well as birdlife, the reserve is notable for supporting a good population of Water Voles, plus the UK’S largest spider, the Fen Raft Spider. It’s remarkably bio-diverse and genuinely wild, even though it’s on the edge of a large town. The future plans also include work to improve the reserve for visitors, including creating a new visitor centre. It has the potential to make nature accessible to large numbers of people, being accessible by foot, cycle, car, bus and train, or even, as I did, by boat from the Waveney River Centre (waveneyrivercentre.co.uk), just across the River Waveney. The centre offers a range of accommodation, from five-star holiday lodges and hotel rooms to camping pitches, pods, and glamping yurts, and offers superb views out across the reserve.
Plans are to turn Carlton Marshes into the UK’S largest wetland nature reserve
Breeding Bitterns could be attracted to a new wildlife area