HOLME BIRD OBSERVATORY
Holme Bird Observatory ("The Obs") is the home of the Norfolk Ornithologists’ Association (NOA)
The NOA’s small Observatory building is set in a 13 acre (5 ha) reserve of pine and scrub-covered dunes between the shore and the Broad Water at Holme-next-the-Sea. The Observatory reserve lies immediately to the east of The Firs, the Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Holme Dunes visitor centre. The Observatory is well situated owing to the change in the line of the north-facing coast, which drops away to the southwest and into the Wash, leaving the pines and dune scrub as a prominent magnet for migrating birds. The reserve is in close proximity to several different habitats, with the sea, beach, dunes, pine woods, scrub, salt marsh and fresh marsh all contributing to an incredibly varied wilderness. There are a number of rides in the dune scrub in which mist nets may be located, and also a Heligoland trap, built in 1997. The area is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The charm of the Observatory lies partly 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 about a mile away across lush grazing marshes.
The northern boundary of the reserve is marked by the Norfolk coast path. To the east of the Observatory building is the east bank, formed by Thornham sea wall. This bank is covered in marram grass and bramble, with small pockets of privet, and at the foot of the bank taller vegetation follows the northern edge of the Broad Water. There is a dense area of elder and willow scrub at the east end of the reserve.
To the south, the Observatory looks over the Broad Water, a brackish lagoon which supports a variety of wildfowl and waders, and over the years has attracted such unusual species as Little Auk, Smew and Great Northern Diver. A sluice at the east end of the Broad Water controls the water levels. Further south beyond the A149 coast road there is a ridge of low hills, which run between Choseley and Ringstead almost parallel with the coast. Larger migrants such as raptors and even Common Cranes often follow this feature, using the thermals created by its topography. The ridge is best viewed from the platform adjacent to the Observatory building, which raises the observer just enough to afford a really good view for several miles to the south, southwest, and southeast.
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Norfolk Ornithologists Association, registered charity no. 267670, Broadwater Road, Holme Next The Sea, Hunstanton, Norfolk, PE36 6LQ