Sparrowhawk by Rod Horne
Mediterranean gull by Barry Madden
Gardens, parks and urban areas
Each of us has a role to play in providing habitat for wildlife in Norfolk as, between us, in our gardens and urban spaces, we are the custodians of huge areas of the county. Though gardens are artificial, they are similar to habitats such as woodland edge and woodland clearings that would once have been widespread across the UK and as such are habitat for many species which inhabit them. In addition, since gardens often have ponds, and are commonly stocked with bird-food, flowering plants, nest-boxes and bee-boxes, they provide many vital resources for wildlife. Together our gardens make up a huge nature reserve throughout the county.
There are many things which ordinary householders can do to make their gardens better habitat for wildlife. Norfolk Wildlife Trust has produced a series of informative leaflets on gardening for wildlife which may be downloaded here. We are also engaged in initiatives to make school grounds in Norfolk better habitat for wildlife and for children. More information may be found here.
On a grander scale than our gardens, our town parks, roadsides, roundabouts and play areas are all also habitat for wildlife, especially when they contain old trees, water or wildflower meadows. Excellent examples of urban parks which are fine habitat for wildlife include The Walks and Harding’s Pits in King’s Lynn. These two sites have very different origins. The Walks is a historic town park and contains numerous large trees, which are home to some of Norfolk’s most abundant and impressive mistletoe plants. The river Gaywood flows through the park which, since it lies next to a railway line, also has wild scrub along its boundaries. Since this site is diverse and long-established it has become home to many birds including treecreepers, nuthatches, blackcaps and stock doves.
Harding’s Pits by contrast is a new site, though with a venerable history. Its history is one of industrial use, as part of the port of King’s Lynn, and the site came under the management of conservationists when they fought to oppose its development. A group of committed volunteers has restored grassland, planted a wildflower meadow, planted native trees and scrub and encouraged access by local people.
Wherever we live in Norfolk, we all have the opportunity and responsibility to make our parks, gardens and playing fields healthy habitat for wildlife and for future generations of people.