Broadland Group's Return to Work at Upton Fen

Blog post by Jerry Simpson on 09 Dec, 2021
The Broadland Local Group of the NWT have been carrying out conservation work on NWT reserves in the broads during the winter months since the working group was founded in April 1990 by our former chairman, John Whitelegg.

During the pandemic, our group has had to lay down its tools and remain dormant, but it is with great pleasure that I can report that the group returned to work on Sunday 21 November at NWT Upton Fen, under the guidance of the Broads South Lead Officer, Adam Houlgate.

Common crane by Elizabeth Dack

Common crane by Elizabeth Dack

Of the 11 volunteers who gathered at the reserve car park, we welcomed one new volunteer and were especially pleased to see Neil and Jack Whitelegg, the son and grandson of our group founder. Jack is no stranger to the group but is joining us this year as part of the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.

After a health and safety briefing in the shelter of the store shed whilst a rain shower passed over, we walked to our work place on a section of the fen. Our main task of the day was to clear an area of small trees and saplings where new growth had occurred in a piece of previously cleared fen habitat. If left unchecked, the fen habitat would be lost to woodland. Using loppers and bow saws, we soon set to work cutting the trees and dragging the cut branches to our fire location on a metal tray.

Common crane by Elizabeth Dack

Chinese water deer by Elizabeth Dack

Many hands make light work and the reward for our endeavours was a fly-past of five common crane, which came up from the grazing marshes and flew virtually over our heads, followed a few minutes later by a skein of pink-footed geese. Adam and his assistant, Joe, had also cut some more mature trees at a dyke edge on the side of the carr woodland, to make a more natural wavy line effect on the woodland edge, so a second fire was lit to clear away the branches. Larger sections of trunk were left as habitat piles.

After a day of fresh air and exercise, the group enjoyed a walk to the edge of the grazing marshes where a new hide / observation platform had been erected since we were last at the reserve. Several Chinese water deer were observed feeding on the marshes before we made our way back to the car park.

The group would like to thank Adam Houlgate and his assistant, Joe, for getting the group back up and running again.

Our local groups provide a fantastic opportunity to get involved with Norfolk's wildlife and conservation, explore your local area and meet new people. We have eight active local members groups which are closely involved in wildlife issues in their area and which meet informally throughout the year for talks, walks and social occasions. Find out more about the groups and how to join here.

Header image: Upton Fen by Elizabeth Dack
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