Aerial photograph of NWT Upton Broad and Marshes by Mike Page
Barn owl at Hardley Marshes by Nick Appleton
Grazing team at NWT Upton Broad and Marshes by Brendan Joyce
Freshwater grazing marsh
The flooded grasslands of Norfolk are broadly all the product of ancient deforestation followed by centuries of grazing by cattle and to a lesser extent other livestock. The exception is the wet grazing marsh of the North Norfolk coast which is the product of saltmarsh being reclaimed by the building of embankments to prevent incursion by seawater.
Both the river valley grazing marshes of Broadland and the Fens and the reclaimed coastal marshes are maintained by seasonal grazing, principally by cattle. They are less floristically diverse than fen habitat but are nonetheless home to rare plants and invertebrates. They are an important nesting habitat for birds such as lapwing, redshank and snipe and winter habitat for tens of thousands of wigeon, migrant geese including pink-footed and brent geese and both Bewick’s and whooper swans. They are the hunting ground of marsh harriers and, during winter, merlins, peregrines, hen harriers and rough-legged buzzards. The ditches which have historically been used to drain them are important for scarce wetland plants and commonly provide a home to water voles, otters, kingfishers and little grebes.