- Category: Norfolk & Suffolk
Norfolk Broads Wild Life
The Norfolk Broads is Britain's largest protected wetland with national park status. Its lakes, interlaced with rivers and dykes, are home to some of the rarest plants, animals, birds, and insects in the UK.
Leave your car and experience the tranquility of being close to nature. Hire a boat and lazily cruse the River Bure to see moorhens stirring in the rushes. Walk or cycle along riverside paths to visit nature reserves and explore pretty villages.
Britain’s largest butterfly with a three-inch wingspan, the swallowtail, can only be found in the broads. The caterpillars feed on milk parsley growing among the reeds. During May, the pupa hatch and you can see them fluttering on sunny days among rainbow-coloured dragonfly.
Improvement to the water quality of all the Broads rivers has brought otter and water vole back, swimming, or shyly scurrying the river banks.
The broads are a haven for rare birds too, like the bittern with a wingspan over 100cms. Found hidden in the reed beds feeding on fish, frogs and insects, with its water-level nest built from dead reeds. It’s a large buff-brown bird similar to the heron, with loose throat feathers and short legs. The male makes a foghorn-like booming sound which can travel up to 5km on a calm night.
The coot is more common, having a plump sooty-grey body and black head. The bearded tit climbs the reed stems nimbly feeding on insects and reed seeds, and the male has a very distinctive black facial stripe and a blue-grey cap. Other birds on the broads are the snipe, redshank, and the sedge and reed warblers.
The broads also attract an abundance of wild flowers. The delicate ragged robin and cuckoo flower – or showier blooms like the lily, willow herb and loosestrife, can be seen in the spring. Then there are figworts and burr marigolds all with their own individual charm. Some flora has medicinal powers, like the valerian, with its delicate cluster of pale pink flowers, thought to fight infection.