The visitor centre at NWT Hickling Broad
will stay open at weekends through the winter, to encourage more people to see what Hickling has to offer in the colder months — including a remarkable winter wildlife spectacle.
From the ‘raptor roost’ in the hour or so before dusk, visitors can view birds of prey, including marsh and hen harriers, sparrow hawks, merlins and kestrels, fly in to gather before nightfall. More than 70 marsh harriers have been seen gathering at once. Barn owls and short-eared owls can also often be seen, as well as common cranes.
Hickling Visitor Centre Coordinator, Rachel Frain says: “We have people who regularly come to see the raptor roost but we hope that opening the visitors’ centre at weekends through the winter will encourage new people to come. We can tell them about the best place to view the raptor roost, what other wildlife sightings there have been and give information on things like the condition of the paths.”
As well as getting information from NWT staff and volunteers, visitors can use the visitor centre as a place to warm up and enjoy hot drinks and light refreshments, including sandwiches and scones, supplied by Café Charlotte, of Stalham.
Rachel adds: “The shop is also open and so people can buy gifts and souvenirs or maybe Christmas presents or greetings cards while they are here.”
The centre will be open every weekend from 11am - 4pm through winter until the start of the fully opened hours at the beginning of April 2019. NWT hopes to also run occasional guided Raptor Roost watching events
and winter boat trails.
NWT Hickling Broad is about 4km south of Stalham, off the A149 Stalham to Caister-on-Sea road. From Hickling village, follow the ‘brown badger’ tourist signs into Stubb Road and on to the nature reserve. To get to the raptor roost, park in the main car park and then walk back along the track and turn right along the sometimes-muddy track towards Stubb Mill. Just past the mill there is a viewing area on a raised bank. There is no parking at the roost.