Reserves Network
The NOA actively manages six bird reserves across north Norfolk.
Holme Bird Observatory
Ringing has occurred on this site since the 1950ís, the observatory being established in 1962 on 13 acres (5ha) of pine and scrub covered dunes between the shore and the Broadwater at Holme-next-the-Sea. This strategic position is a key migration point allowing the observation study of the various streams of migrants arriving, leaving or passing through the county. The area is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Since 1962, when the Observatory was established, over 40,000 birds have been ringed and more than 300 species have been recorded. The observatory, a member of the UK Bird Observatories Council, continues to operate an active ringing programme throughout the year and has, following a kind donation, recently constructed a new Heligoland trap to aid this important work. Visitors to the observatory may watch the bird ringing when in progress.
Besides birds the reserve has a range of different habitats and a number of Nationally scarce plants grow. There is a regular moth trapping programme and visitors interested in butterflies and dragonflies will not be disappointed.
Perhaps part of the charm of Holme lies in its relative remoteness from everyday life, both spiritually and physically. It is, in effect, an oasis of Corsican pines and scrub set in a wilderness of sand-dunes, the nearest main road being more than a mile away across desolate grazing marshes.
The full time warden takes a census of the birds present each day. Land migrants are recorded together with any sea passage. Numbers present and flight direction are noted. In the spring a full breeding survey of the area is conducted
The reserve has five hides, which overlook a variety of bird habitats and winter feeding stations. In addition there is a dedicated sea-watching hide, the first in Norfolk, for the exclusive use of members.
The Observatory Centre provides an excellent opportunity to catch up on recent bird news as well as the chance to warm up with a cuppa on cold windswept days. For details of today's sightings contact the Observatory on 01485 525406. Please note that the Observatory is closed on Mondays.
Directions: The Observatory is signposted off the A149 (as NOA Migration Watchpoint!) at the western end of Holme village, approx.1 mile east of Old Hunstanton. Follow the signposts out to the Observatory. Plenty of parking is available in the NOA's car park - on right at end of track. Note: If stopped at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust entrance hut Observatory visitors and members do not need to buy a permit or car parking pass for the adjacent NWT reserve - just let them know you are going to the NOA Observatory. Grid Ref:TF717450
Redwell Marsh
This old grazing marsh, purchased in 1985, extends to 35 acres (14ha). It is currently at the centre of a major habitat development programme. Freshwater wader scrapes have been created specifically to provide habitat for wildfowl during the winter and passage and breeding waders from spring through to autumn. An area of willow scrub, known as The Piggeries, is being developed as a ringing area.
Purpose built viewing facilities, which include accomodation for wheelchair users, have been erected and were opened in April 2001. Members and visiting permit holders may use this excellent new hide which is already providing excellent views across this very promising reserve. The number of species recorded is increasing almost daily!
Directions: Siutated on north side of Holme-next-the-Sea village off the Observatory approach road (Broadwater Road) - follow signs for 'NOA Migration Watchpoint'. Car parking is available for disabled visitors in the paddock adjacent to the hide from late spring to mid-autumn. Grid Ref:TF701437
Whiddington Wood
This is a small wood in Holme-next-the-Sea. Originally an orchard, it was presented to the NOA in 1989. A number of garden and woodland species breed and commoner migrants pass through in spring.
Directions: Siuated at the western end of Holme-next-the-Sea village. Grid Ref:TF702434
Sorry but at present there are no formal visiting arrangements.
Walsey Hills Migration Watch Point
The only part of the famous Cley Bird Observatory (1949-63) still in operation, this 3-acre (1.2ha) scrub covered hillside sits beside the coast road between Cley and Salthouse. The reserve Information Centre is manned throughout the year and is a key centre for finding out what's about in East Anglia. To catch up with recent sightings contact the Warden on 01263 740875.
The hawthorn and gorse thickets provide excellent cover for drifted migrants, often attracting scarcer species. Being situated above Cley's famous East Bank, the Watch Point affords outstanding views across the nearby Cley and Salthouse reedbeds and marshes.
Besides birds the hills are also frequented by Adders, Slow Worms, Common Lizards and several species of butterflies.
Directions: Walsey Hills is situated on the A149 midway between Cley-next-the-Sea and Salthouse. The reserve is signposted. Parking is available adjacent to the reserve. Grid ref: TG062442
Salthouse Estate
This is a small reserve of scrub-covered hillside and a relict sandpit adjoining Salthouse Heath. It was purchased by the NOA in 1984. A number of heath and scrub species breed.
Sorry but at present there are no formal visiting arrangements.
Directions: The reserve is on the west side of the unclassified road running south up onto Salthouse Heath from Salthouse village. Grid Ref:TG072431
The Quags
Situated next to the shingle coastal bank below Kelling, this freshwater marsh reserve, covering 14 acres (5.7ha), has been a reserve since 1984. It is the most easterly of the long chain of coastal fresh marshes in North Norfolk.
The marsh, with its specially created scrape, attracts a range of waders and wildfowl throughout the year as well as passerines, which feed on the grass and weed seeds. These in turn attract owls and raptors. The whole reserve is easily viewed from the Norfolk Coastal Path, which runs alongside. You can get information on recent sightings at the Quags from Walsey Hills Migration Watch Point.
Directions: The reserve is siutated on the seaward side off the A149, approx.1 mile east of Salthouse. Follow the track (RUPP) from just beyond the the eastern end of Salthouse village. Grid Ref:TG093438
Hempton Marshs
In 2000 the NOA purchased and established Hempton Marsh Nature Reserve, on the outskirts of Fakenham, Norfolk. The protection of this valuable area of wetland grazing meadows has only been possible due to a generous grant from the National Heritage Lottery Fund. This site is the seventh reserve to be established by the Association and the first inland away from the North Norfolk Coast.
The 28 acre (11.2ha) reserve lies in the nationally important Upper Wensum Valley and already carries designation both as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a County Wildlife Site (CWS). The area now protected is important for large numbers of both wild flowers and birds, not to mention the elusive Otter, a scarce visitor to the Wensum. Kingfishers are regularly reported from the river and it is the intention of the NOA to improve, conserve and enhance the existing feeding and nesting habitat for wading birds such as Snipe and the nationally threatened Lapwing.
Directions: The reserve lies on the north bank of the River Wensum to the west of Fakenham. The A1065 runs alongside the reserve. Parking is available just off the main road adjacent to the reserve. Grid ref: TF912297.
Other Reserves
The NOA is constantly looking to expand its network of reserves in Norfolk either via land purchase or long-term management agreements. The conservation of valuable bird habitats is a cornerstone of the Association's activities.