NWT Cley Marshes is Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s oldest and best known nature reserve. It was purchased in 1926 to be held ‘in perpetuity as a bird breeding sanctuary’. It provided a blue print for nature conservation which has now been replicated across the UK.The water levels in the pools and reedbeds are regulated to ensure they are ideal for the resident birds, and reed is harvested every year to keep the reedbeds in good condition.
The shingle beach and saline lagoons, along with the grazing marsh and reedbed support large numbers of wintering and migrating wildfowl and waders, as well as bittern, marsh harrier and bearded tit.
A new eco-friendly visitor centre opened in 2007 containing a café, shop, viewing areas (including viewing from a camera on the reserve), exhibition area, interpretation and toilets. The view from the visitor centre across the Marsh to the sea is breathtaking.
Those wanting to get close to nature can stay at a hotel near Blakeney in order to experience Cley Marshes and all the local area has to offer. Last year, 30 spoonbills were spotted over a few days in the first week of July, making a new record high. Aside from the spoonbill, Cley Marshes is also home to a number of endangered species including the avocet, bearded tit, marsh harrier, and bittern.
Norfolk is one of the best places to go birdwatching in Britain. It has a number of nature reserves aside from the Cley Marshes Nature Reserve, such as Hickling Broad National Nature Reserve and Holkham Nature Reserve, among many others. For many birdwatchers, the Cley Marshes Nature Reserve is a definite must to visit because it attracts such a diversity of birds, making it truly the best spot for birdwatching.
No matter what the season, there is always something to see in the reserve. Be sure to allow enough time for your visit and you may want to visit several times during your holiday. Choose to stay from hotels near Blakeney such as The George Hotel, which have rooms that look onto Cley Marshes, so visitors can still observe the birds from the comforts of their own room.
(Source: Record numbers of birds spotted at Cley Nature Reserve, EDP24, July 5, 2014)
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