Welcome to my office - meet the man who has been warden of Cley Marshes for 40 years
PUBLISHED: 08:28 11 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:21 11 March 2019
Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk
For four decades he has tended to one of Britain’s most beautiful landscapes - but now Bernard Bishop is taking a step back from his role of warden of Cley Marshes.
And the connection the 70-year-old has for the Norfolk Wildlife Trust site stretches back much further - he was born in the same house he lives in today on the edge of the marsh and his dad was warden before him for 42 years.
Mr Bishop marked his retirement with a party at the reserve’s visitors’ centre on Friday. He said: “It was a brilliant time and there was a lovely cross-section of people.
“I’ve put my life into the reserve since I was a kid. It’s a very special place to us and it means a great deal.”
Robert Bishop, Bernard’s great-grandfather, was the reserves’s first watcher after Cley Marshes was bought by doctor and naturalist Sydney Long in 1926.
His grandson, Billy, become warden in 1937.
Mr Bishop said access to the site was far less developed when he began work there alongside his dad.
He said: “I started as my father’s assistant.
“In the early days there weren’t any hides or water scrapes (shallow depressions for wading birds) and there were just pools in the reeds where they used to feed the ducks.
“In the nineties we launched an appeal in memory of Dr Long to build five new hides and 800m of boardwalks so the less-abled people could actually go out on the reserve.
“Then we had a flood and the boardwalk was washed out, but afterwards we cracked on and got it ready for Prince Charles to open in March 1996.”
The reserve is the oldest belonging to the trust and is a haven for birds such as the marsh harrier, Eurasian bittern and avocet.
The site is also home to a number of threatened species including water voles, as well as some rare species of beetles and shrimp.
Mr Bishop said he would not become a stranger to the place he has loved his entire life.
He said: “We’ve got a new warden and I’m here to help him. I shall stay on working two days a week, and probably a bit more than unofficially.”
He said the family affair with the reserve would continue, as his son, Kelvin, helps with cutting the reeds, and his 14-year-old grandson also lent a hand.