Credit Mike and Bernie Fenn 1/11
Credit Andy Musgrove 2/11
Credit Andy Musgrove 3/11
Credit Andy Musgrove 4/11
Credit Andy Musgrove 5/11
Credit Andy Musgrove 6/11
Credit Andy Musgrove 7/11
Credit Andy Musgrove 8/11
Credit Andy Musgrove 9/11
Barn owl - credit Mike and Bernie Fenn 10/11
Shotesham Common credit Mike and Bernie Fenn 11/11

Shotesham Common

Shotesham Common is a fantastic wildlife site that is designated a Special Site of Scientific Interest. Running through the village of Shotesham the freshwater grazing marsh is home to such species as barn owl, common frog, watervole, ragged robin, migrant hawker and grass snake.

Please note this site is not a Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve.

Habitat description from the Wildlife in Common Survey

Shotesham Common is registered common (CL20). A large linear common, almost a mile in length, it consists of species-rich grazing meadow, which follows the line of the spring-fed Beck.  

The marshy grassland is richest in the south, being influenced by the Beck and springs, it supports meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria), angelica (Angelica sylvestris), fen bedstraw (Galium uliginosum), greater birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus pedunculatus), meadow vetchling, soft rush (Juncus effusus), hard rush (Juncus inflexus), blunt-flowered rush (Juncus subnodulosus), fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica), fool’s watercress (Apium nodiflorum) and lesser water parsnip (Berula erecta), water mint (Mentha aquatica) and water figwort (Scrophularia auriculata). Common spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) and heath spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata) were also found on the site.  

The grassland become slightly less diverse towards the northern end of the common, where sedges and tall grasses are more frequent. The sloping boundaries of the common are generally less diverse being drier.  

The boundaries are a gappy hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) hedge, patches of low bramble (Rubus fruticosus agg.) scrub, and some mature trees to the north, including oak (Quercus robur), poplar (Populus sp.) and coppiced hazel (Corylus avellana). There are a few scattered trees on the common, with alder (Alnus glutinosa), beech (Fagus sylvatica) and hawthorn.  

The 1909 Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists Society report on The Commons of Norfolk simply records the common as being ‘Pasture with Juncus’. The first Ordnance Survey maps from the late 19th century show the common as rough pasture, with many ditches, two fords, and a number of wells. By 1906, three springs are shown in the south of the common.  

The pond is shown as early as 1840 on the Tithe Map, and on one OS map is depicted as marsh. The Beck is clearly represented, then being the parish boundary between Shotesham All Saints and Shotesham St Mary. Trees are scattered along the boundaries of the common.  

Shotesham Common is a valley site in the catchment of the River Tas. An extensive area of unimproved grassland, with a good variety of grassland types. These range from permanently wet marshy grassland on the valley bottom, through wet neutral grassland, to drier grassland on the slopes. A stream runs through the site and there is a small area of basic flush on the valley side.  

The Natural England SSSI 1987 citation reports the scientific interest of the site as being “maintained by light grazing and a diverse well developed flora is present with several uncommon species”. It goes on “The areas of marshy grassland are dominated by blunt-flowered rush (Juncus subnodulosus), sharp-flowered rush (J. acutiflorus) and meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) with frequent bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliate), marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi) and southern marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza praetermissa). More uncommon species present include marsh lousewort (Pedicularis palustris), marsh helleborine (Epipactis palustris) and common cotton-grass (Eriophorum angustifolium)”.  

“Wet neutral grassland is present on less waterlogged soils. Grasses are dominant in the sward and the more frequent species are tufted hair-grass (Deschampsia cespitosa), Yorkshire fog (Holcus lanatus) and creeping bent (Agrostis stolonifera). Herb species are well represented and include cowslip (Primula veris), common spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsia), common twayblade (Listera ovata) and adder’s tongue (Ophioglossum vulgatum).

“Small areas of dry, neutral grassland on hummocky ground are dominated by sweet vernal grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum) and Yorkshire fog with meadow saxifrage (Saxifraga granulate), Lady’s bedstraw (Galium verum) and common quaking grass (Briza media).

The small flush has a bryophyte-dominated carpet with a short-sward vegetation that includes marsh arrow-grass (Triglochin palustris), quaking grass and cuckoo flower (Cardamine pratensis). The site also includes small areas of semi-improved and improved grassland”. (Information from

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