Sparham Pools lies in the Upper Wensum Valley near the villages of Lyng and Sparham, the site of former gravel workings that have been flooded to form deep and shallow pools with islands. The result is a very attractive and interesting site with a number of vantage points providing the opportunity to observe the pools and their rich and varied habitats.
The reserve, leased to NWT, is popular with birdwatchers as it attracts a number of waders and waterfowl. Sand martin and kingfisher nest in the banks and common terns breed on the islands.
Dragonflies and damselflies flourish including red-eyed damselflies and butterflies such as the purple hairstreak and green hairstreak. The area has a mix of birch, gorse and willow scrub with woodland supporting a rich variety of plant species including hound’s tongue and evening primrose.
Visitors to the reserve may observe terrapins basking around the edge of the water - these are as an unfortunate result of deliberate release of exotic pets. They feed on aquatic plants, insects and small fish but we believe the British climate is not conducive for them to breed, although they can live for up to 40 years. As a totally aquatic species they are hard to humanely catch and therefore their numbers will be monitored as they slowly die out, assessing the ever changing climate and how this may have an impact on native wildlife.
These former gravel workings attract a variety of wildfowl including shoveler, gadwall, mallard, pochard and tufted duck.
In winter these may be joined by goosander and, occasionally, goldeneye. The surrounding trees harbour good numbers of common woodland birds.
Sparham Pools is one of the better sites in Norfolk to see this attractive long-tailed grey and yellow songbird. The bridge over the Wensum is a good spot from which to look for them.
In winter, Sparham can be a good site for this sleek diving-duck. Males have a dark green head and back that contrasts with the rest of their stunning pink-washed, creamy plumage.