October on our reserves

Blog post by NWT on 02 Oct, 2023

Rare flowers are thriving in the Brecks 
 

Our Weeting Heath warden, James Symonds, carried out a count of the Eastern spiked speedwell, Veronica spicata, on the reserve in early September. James recorded over two thousand flowering spikes, the best ever year to date. James stated that, ‘despite this count, Eastern spiked speedwell is very rare in the UK and is only found at four locations – one of which has only recently been found – and Weeting Heath is by far the largest population.’  
 

Eastern spiked speedwell - J. Symonds

Eastern spiked speedwell - J. Symonds

In December 2019 Plantlife UK, as part of the Brecklands ‘Shifting Sands Project’, had been working to increase the distribution and number of Breckland mugwort Artemisia campestris. Also known as field wormwood, it is another plant in the suite of Breckland rarities. Three of our sites were chosen as recipients for the plant; Weeting Heath, Cranwich Camp and Warren Hills. The translocations initially appeared to only have limited success with most of the 24 plants across all three sites seeming to have perished. However, a search this summer resulted in the discovery of a number of the plants doing very well, possibly as a result of a warm wet summer. James Symonds reported: ‘Four of the six in the Weeting ‘pit’ have reappeared and are looking extremelyhealthy. At Warren Hills the six plants there quickly disappeared and we thought we would never see them again, however this year I stumbled across one that had just popped up, and it’s an absolute Goliath’.                
 

James’s discoveries continued with the strange looking moonwort turning up at Weeting Heath. This is a very welcome reappearance, after many years of absences for this species.  This peculiar fern was believed to be capable of removing a horse’s shoe should it step on it.   

Rare large marsh grasshopper returns to Norfolk

As partners in the Hop of Hope initiative, a project led by Citizen Zoo, we're delighted to be continuing our efforts to bring back the rare large marsh grasshopper to Norfolk. 
Over the past five years, we've been working together to bring the species to Norfolk and are delighted that they are now thriving on a range of sites. Thanks to a recent grant from Natural England's Species Recovery Programme, we are looking forward to working alongside Citizen Zoo to help broaden the range of this special creature even further!
The large marsh grasshopper is one of the UK's rarest grasshopper species, last seen in East Anglia in 1968 before the recent reintroductions.

More than 5,000 grasshoppers have been released across four Norfolk sites since 2018, and the pilot release site is now home to what looks like a firmly established and self-sustaining population of more than 550 of these fantastic beasts.
Over the coming years, thanks to the new funding, we're hoping to replicate this success on further wetland sites across the county, including in the Norfolk Broads.  


Header image - Weeting Heath by Richard Osbourne

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