Raptor Roost experience at Hickling Broad

Blog post by Rachel Frain & Jo Wright (guest author) on 28 Dec, 2018

It’s been a wonderful season so far at NWT Hickling Broad. Lots of people have come to experience our Raptor Roost, one of winter’s great spectacles.
 

Jo Wright visited the reserve with her niece, she had such an amazing time that she wrote to us, to share their experience. It’s a beautiful piece of writing that captures a winters day at Hickling Broad and she’s agreed that we can share it. We hope you enjoy reading the account of their visit as much as we did. Maybe it will encourage you to come and see for yourself what Hickling Broad has to offer?
 


Starling roost, by Brian McFarlane

Common cranes, by Jeremy Bone

One afternoon I went with my niece Laura to visit the Raptor Roost for the first time. I wasn’t sure what the roost would be exactly; an area where birds roosted in trees perhaps? From the NWT car park we followed signs up the lane towards Stubbs Mill, with an expanse of farmland on one side and marsh on the other. Arriving at the mill there was a raised earth bank on which you can stand, giving a panoramic view over the reedbeds. This was it.
 

We watched as the setting sun filled the sky with stripes of orange and pink, and saw several marsh harriers circling far away. Then, in the middle distance, a pair of large birds flew side by side, from left to right, across the reedbeds. I hadn’t seen the cranes before, but the pencil thin silhouette and their huge black and white wings were impressive and unmistakable. If only all birds were as easy to identify!
 

We stayed until the sun was going down, before returning homewards down the track. The reeds glistened silver against the setting sun and the pale coloured ponies and chestnut red cattle grazed contentedly. Suddenly a hare popped out onto the track from the side ditch and on seeing us, it turned and disappeared, giving us a brief but tantalising glimpse of this special animal.
 

Starling roost, by Brian McFarlane

Starling roost, by Brian McFarlane

Content with our visit to the roost we were approaching the car park when I noticed a cluster of birds flying above the trees. "Oh", I said, "that looks rather like a small murmuration". As I said it we noticed a group of birds, flying fast and low across the marsh in front of us, heading like missiles, directly towards the main group. "Here come some more", said my niece, as more birds flew in from all directions. Some birds came from behind us, passing low over our heads, so close that we could hear their wings beating in a swoosh of disturbed air. Within a minute the murmuration had doubled in size and we held our breath as we watched it curving in waves like smoke silhouetted against the pink sky. Suddenly, on an invisible cue, the entire flock dropped as one, out of sight down to their roosting place. It happened in a split second, leaving the sky empty and the image of what we had just seen still resonating in our eyes. "That was saving the best till last" said Laura.
 

 

Rachel Frain is the Visitor Centre Coordinator at NWT Hickling Broad.

 

 

Share this

Latest Blog Posts

The 250 Club The 250 Club
by Dick Wingate on 31 Dec, 2018
How to help a hedgehog How to help a hedgehog
by Helen Baczkowska on 18 Dec, 2018
Beetlemania Beetlemania
by Chris Durdin on 13 Dec, 2018
The pride of Pigneys The pride of Pigneys
by Mark Webster on 04 Dec, 2018
Funding the day job Funding the day job
by Ginny Seppings on 20 Nov, 2018
In praise of ivy In praise of ivy
by Chris Durdin on 06 Nov, 2018
New wildlife information signs New wildlife information si...
by Steve Cox on 23 Oct, 2018
NWT's Visitor Centres NWT's Visitor Centres
by Steve Cox on 25 Sep, 2018
Seizing the moment Seizing the moment
by David North on 13 Sep, 2018
Red bartsia bee discovered at Thorpe Marshes Red bartsia bee discovered ...
by Chris Durdin on 06 Sep, 2018
Entranced by orchids Entranced by orchids
by David North on 07 Aug, 2018
Oasis in the drought: Thorpe Marshes in July Oasis in the drought: Thorp...
by Chris Durdin on 23 Jul, 2018
Volunteers Get Together at Weeting Heath Volunteers Get Together at ...
by Steve Cox on 20 Jul, 2018
Eye of the Shoal Eye of the Shoal
by Nick Morritt on 03 Jul, 2018
Norfolk hawkers at Thorpe Marshes Norfolk hawkers at Thorpe M...
by Chris Durdin on 26 Jun, 2018
10 reasons to love Norfolk 10 reasons to love Norfolk
by Jess French on 05 Jun, 2018
Lost Words for a Lost Generation Lost Words for a Lost Gener...
by Nick Morritt on 22 May, 2018
Bees in the reeds Bees in the reeds
by Robert Morgan on 15 May, 2018
Tour de Frank Tour de Frank
by Frank Ellis on 08 May, 2018
Otters in Norfolk Otters in Norfolk
by Ben Moore on 24 Apr, 2018
The hardest job in the world? The hardest job in the worl...
by David North on 10 Apr, 2018
Winter walk in the Claylands Winter walk in the Clayland...
by Helen Baczkowska on 12 Mar, 2018
Visiting ‘our’ seals in Norfolk Visiting ‘our’ seals in Nor...
by Ben Garrod on 16 Feb, 2018
Thorpe Marshes in the 1960s Thorpe Marshes in the 1960s
by Chris Durdin on 09 Jan, 2018