It is with envious eyes that naturalists elsewhere in the country gaze across to Norfolk, for we are lucky to possess so many different habitat types. From the Broads to the Brecklands there are heaths, woods, fenlands and dunes, all unique, beautiful and on our doorstep. Many of these vulnerable and precious sites are nature reserves owned and managed by Norfolk Wildlife Trust, and they are home to many rare species, some being found only in Norfolk. The aptly named Norfolk hawker dragonfly and swallowtail butterfly of the Broads, the Natterjack toad of our coastal dunes, the strange stone curlew bird of the Brecks. We have many exceptional landscapes containing numerous animals and plants.
This year sees the celebration of Norfolk Wildlife Trust's 95th Anniversary, and as such marks a significant milestone for wildlife conservation. In 1926 a revolution took place - its catalyst was the acquisition of a coastal marsh at Cley-next-the-Sea by Dr Sydney Long of the newly formed, and then named, Norfolk Naturalists' Trust.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust now owns or manages 60 nature reserves, right across the county. You may be aware of Cley Marshes and Hickling Broad, but how about Thompson Common down in the Brecks, or even Hethel Old Thorn, the smallest Wildlife Trust nature reserve in the UK? Is your nearest NWT nature reserve an ancient woodland or a rare heathland? A registered common?
In the Trust's 95th anniversary year, we are teaming up with Archant to celebrate the wonderful nature for which Norfolk is so envied. Every fortnight in Heaven we will celebrate a nature reserve or area in Norfolk to explore, and a species to discover. We will have films on our website and social media showcasing our wonderful wild places and hope that you share your own photos and experiences with us too.
But nature should not be confined to reserves and it is our view that Norfolk should be one great living landscape. So this year, why not explore your local patch and discover what wildlife makes a home near you? It doesn't have to be a wild and remote place, for you will be surprised what you may find along a verge or in a local churchyard. Even the smallest gardens have a bewildering array of wildlife if you take time to look.
You may want to join with us by taking action for wildlife. We will suggest small, seasonal ways to take action this year, from using a bowl in the garden to make a small pond to creating homes for wildlife in log piles, weedy patches or bird boxes.
Nature is nearer than you think, so why not take the time this year to discover, explore and take action?
Robert Morgan is NWT Reserves Officer.
Header image: Hickling Broad and Marshes nature reserve by Richard Osbourne