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Norfolk Ornithologists Association
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HEMPTON MARSH RESERVE
Hempton Marsh Nature Reserve consists of 29 acres (12 ha) of ancient wet meadow and mature woodland, situated on the south-western outskirts of Fakenham, and bordered on the south side by the River Wensum. The site is wardened regularly by a team of volunteers.
The Wensum valley is within The Broads Environmentally Sensitive Area, and contains areas of wet meadow and damp woodland that hold a unique variety of flora and fauna, especially birds whose numbers elsewhere may have been adversely affected by modern farming practices and by land drainage. The creation of a nature reserve with public access provides a means preserving and protecting the site, and allows for the enjoyment and study of nature by visitors.
The reserve was purchased in 1999 through a Heritage Lottery Grant. Since then the NOA has focussed its efforts on the development of the habitat at the site, including restoration of an ancient meander in the river( See below). In addition, there has been systematic monitoring of the wildlife that the reserve supports. Further funding in 2006, from the NOA’s Hempton Access Project, supplemented by matching funding from Jordans’ Cereals, allowed the construction of a boardwalk and hides to give effective public access to the site without damage or disturbance to the habitat. The reserve was officially opened in April 2008, and public events are run at the reserve each year including moth days and ringing demonstrations. The NOA’s work to protect and develop the habitat of the site attracts Higher Level Stewardship funding.
There are two hides and a viewing platform. The Marsh Hide looks out over the grazing marsh and a dragonfly pond immediately in front of it. Barn Owl and Marsh Harrier can sometimes be seen hunting over the grazing marsh. A second hide looks over a feeding station in the alder woodland, and beyond this a platform looks out across the river meander in the south-west corner of the marsh (see above).
Bird species of particular interest include Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Barn Owl, Lapwing, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Woodcock, Water Rail, Marsh Tit (see right), Brambling, Siskin and Redpoll (see across). Kingfisher and Red Kite are seen from time to time, and several warbler species are present in the summer.
Hempton Marsh is an important site for flowers, supporting extensive areas of Southern Marsh Orchids and Yellow Rattle in early summer. The site also supports a wide range of butterflies, moths, dragonflies and damselflies.
Although there is no access to the grazing marsh ,shown here in winter flooding,,
many butterflies and dragonflies which thrive there can be enjoyed from the hides and the boardwalk on sunny days.
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