Wildlife Trust:

It’s a liv­ing land­scape which thrills Nor­folk Wildlife Trust evan­ge­list Nick Ach­e­son

EDP Norfolk - - INSIDE - nor­folk­wildlifetr­ust.org.uk

With elo­quent evan­ge­list Nick Ach­e­son

Isaw a mir­a­cle to­day; a mir­a­cle in Breck­land. I stood by a quiet road, flanked by dark blocks of conifers, and, as the win­ter sun be­gan to warm the Fe­bru­aryf­rigid air, the sky was filled with taloned folk.

Most here were buz­zards, brown and bulky, broad wings raised, sway­ing like novice cy­clists as they threw their lazy loops across the sky above my head. The buz­zards’ breasts and un­der­wings were var­ied, some co­coa-dusted and some whitely rimed, each bird bear­ing a feath­ered fin­ger­print.

In the dis­tance, ap­proach­ing, a spar­rowhawk. Far smaller, with a long, sharp-cor­nered tail, he tore along a dot­ted line made by the beat­ing of his wings.

The buz­zards in their swirl ig­nored him. He, though, cir­cled with them twice, gaining height, and flapped off on some chaffinch-slay­ing er­rand. Mo­ments later, his space in the stack of hawks was taken by a kite, and then another, these two great droop-winged birds tilt­ing their foxy tails in the warm­ing air.

Fifty years ago this would have been a mir­a­cle in­deed. Fifty years ago there were no buz­zards left in Nor­folk. Nor were there any kites, though they had once been com­mon. Spar­rowhawks were just be­gin­ning to re­cover 50 years ago, hav­ing also dis­ap­peared from Nor­folk; in their case thanks to the lethal ef­fects of now­banned pes­ti­cides.

That’s why these hawks above

“If you’d have told my school­boy self that, in my life­time, pere­grines would be a com­mon sight in Nor­folk, I would have laughed”

my head to­day were such a joy. That’s why their pres­ence in the Brecks, and ev­ery­where in Nor­folk, thrills me, gives me hope for na­ture and its re­cov­ery. They’re back, these wild peo­ple of the sky, they’re here again and wel­come.

Pere­grines have nested now for sev­eral years on Nor­wich Cathe­dral. Last year they bred on Cromer Church too, and other pairs are dot­ted round the county. If you’d have told my school­boy self that, in my life­time, pere­grines would be a com­mon sight in Nor­folk, that sev­eral pairs would nest here, that I would see them over my house from time to time, I would have laughed.

I never saw a pere­grine in my Nor­folk child­hood. I saw my first pere­grine, aged 20, on the

Ox­ford­shire Downs while I was away at uni­ver­sity. I never saw an ot­ter or a badger in my child­hood ei­ther. They too were al­most nonex­is­tent here.

My first ot­ters were on Fet­lar, when a uni­ver­sity friend and I spent the sum­mer hol­i­days vol­un­teer­ing for the RSPB. My first badger ran across the road one dusk in Wytham Woods, also in Ox­ford.

Both an­i­mals have since re-es­tab­lished them­selves in Nor­folk. Last year I watched bad­gers at their sett in midNor­folk, pinch­ing my­self that these gor­geous crea­tures could again be seen here.

I saw Nor­folk ot­ters sev­eral times last year too, and could eas­ily have seen many more had I gone to look for them. There are ot­ters back in ev­ery Nor­folk river. Where they be­long.

All this shows what is pos­si­ble, what we are ca­pa­ble of achiev­ing, when we put aside prej­u­dice and choose to live har­mo­niously with the nat­u­ral world. The task ahead is mas­sive – ob­jec­tively the 20th cen­tury was a dis­as­ter for wildlife in the Bri­tish coun­try­side – but at Nor­folk Wildlife Trust we be­lieve in won­der­ful things and in act­ing to bring them about.

We be­lieve in what, with our part­ners at The Wildlife Trusts, we call a Na­ture Re­cov­ery Net­work: a UK-wide re­gen­er­a­tion of wildlife habi­tat, al­low­ing wild species and wild to flour­ish right across a bio­di­verse land­scape. We be­lieve in con­nect­ing ar­eas of habi­tat, in restor­ing lost habi­tat, in cre­at­ing new habi­tat.

We be­lieve the wild be­longs be­side us ev­ery­where in Nor­folk, in­clud­ing in our hearts. We’re hugely grate­ful for more than 90 years of sup­port from the peo­ple of Nor­folk.

We’re thank­ful to our mem­bers, our donors, our part­ners and our col­leagues. We’re ex­cited for the fu­ture and we look for­ward to your sup­port for years to come. To­gether we must keep kites, buz­zards and spar­rowhawks in our skies, ot­ters in our rivers and bad­gers in our quiet woods, and to­gether we must se­cure a vi­brant fu­ture for wildlife ev­ery­where across our beau­ti­ful county.

ABOVE: Thet­ford For­est LEFT: Com­mon Buz­zard Bu­teo bu­teo FROM LEFT: An adult spar­rowhawk Ac­cip­iter nisus in an ur­ban gar­den. The bird is stand­ing on a col­lared dove that it has just killed Pere­grine Fal­con Falco pere­gri­nus

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