Nature reserve marks World Wetlands Day with free entry
PUBLISHED: 09:12 31 January 2019 | UPDATED: 11:51 31 January 2019
© Richard Osbourne
Its beauty has been regularly highlighted and even won praise from Sir David Attenborough.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust is opening its Cley and Salthouse Marshes nature reserve free of charge on Saturday, February 2 in honour of World Wetlands Day and the site’s international significance.
Marking the anniversary of the signing of the ‘Convention on Wetlands’, known as the Ramsar Convention, on February 2, 1971 – World Wetlands Day raises awareness of the vital role played by wetlands across the world and promotes their conservation and the sustainable use of wetlands and their resources.
The Cley and Salthouse Marshes are home to breeding avocets and marsh harriers, plus thousands of pink-footed and brent geese which visit in winter. The reserve’s habitats include grazing marshes which are winter habitat for wigeon, teal and dark-bellied brent geese; areas of reedbed which are home to marsh harriers, bearded tits and numerous warblers; and three large areas of water which provide invaluable refuge and feeding habitat for a range of wetland species including winter wildfowl and geese.
Head of people and wildlife at the trust, David North, said: “Globally wetlands are more threatened than forests, with many, including most of Norfolk’s once extensive peat fenlands, having been drained and reclaimed.
“Here in Norfolk our coastal and Broadland wetlands still teem with migratory birds, reminding us of a shared global responsibility for life on an inter-connected planet. We can be proud of Norfolk’s wetlands: more than just wildlife-rich, they are part of a global life support system of inter-connected wetlands on which migratory wildlife depends.”
Cley Marshes was named by Sir David Attenborough as “one of the great places in Britain to see wildlife”. Since its purchase in 1926, under trust’s care, the nature reserve has grown to become one of the best-loved birdwatching sites in Europe.
Wetlands are of international or national importance for wildlife if they hold 1pc or more of respectively international or national wildlife populations.
Other renowned wetlands in Norfolk include the Wash, with its tidal mud and sandflats teeming with waders; and the Norfolk Broads, England’s largest lowland wetland, with its shallow man-made lakes home to crane, bittern, harrier and the UK’s most spectacular butterfly, the swallowtail.