After visiting this year's Cley Calling: Closer to Home festival, attendee Evie York has shared her thoughts on two of the festival's events.
Cley Calling: Circuit of Cley
Nestled between the land and sea and filled with a unique array of flora and fauna, the Cley and Salthouse Marshes are home to many breathtaking sights and sounds. From the mellow rush of the reeds, to the scores of little gulls perching by the water, Cley is overflowing with natural beauty.
Walking the circuit of the marshes, we were provided with an in-depth history of the reserve, which is the oldest belonging to the NWT, by our expert Reserve Guide, Alan Hughes.
Throughout the walk, Alan informed us about Dr Sydney Long's purchase of the marshes in 1926, with the intention of founding a bird sanctuary after several visitors to the area noticed an abundance of different bird species using the marshland to nest in or pass through during migration.
Another fascinating chapter in Cley's, and indeed the country's, history is when in 1946, former prisoners of war were employed as caretakers of the reserve after previously being homed in the nearby Eye field.
In addition to bearded reedlings, black terns, spoonbills, reed warblers, and the occasional bittern, visitors to Cley might be lucky enough to spot a water vole or two which, despite being a species under threat, are still common to the area. Even more fortunate is the sight of European otters, which can occasionally be seen gliding through the slow-moving water.
With its mixture of fresh and saltwater pools, marshland, reeds, shingle and fields of grazing cattle, as well as a rich history and warm reception provided by the wonderful staff at the visitors' centre, experiencing a day out on the reserve at Cley and Salthouse Marshes is something few would want to miss.
Cley Calling: Wildlife Close to Home
Naturalist David North has an insightful approach to the often overlooked beauty of wildlife on our doorsteps.
Beginning with a simple photo of a moss-cladded brick wall, David voiced what I believe most people might think at first glance - it's just a wall, right? But what many might not have previously considered or even known is that nature and ecosystems extend far beyond what we can see with the naked eye.
The recent series of lockdowns saw many of us confined for much of our days to go no further than our own gardens or patios. I myself rarely gave a second thought as to what might inhabit the cracks and crevices of the brick walls and patio tiles outside my front door. But seeing some of the beautiful images of the delicate mossy habitat - which David was able to capture with the aid of a waterproof macro lens camera recently gifted to him for paddle boarding - was inspiring.
The photos capture an intricate and ever-changing microscopic landscape throughout the seasons. Additionally, we were able to see in great detail more familiar but equally amazing sights, such as the early morning frost, dew and guttation on various flora, as well as pictures of hares and snow buntings in the winter.
I for one came away from this brilliant talk and presentation with greater knowledge and appreciation for the regularly overlooked wonder of wildlife close to our homes. When I returned home, I took a look at what lay within the dirt and moss on a wall I had previously passed several times a day, without giving much regard to what interesting things it might house, and looked with a different perspective.
Thank you to Evie for attending the first day of Cley Calling and writing a review for us.
All images: Evie York