Stonechats, Common crane, flocks of Fieldfare and Redwings...

Get up early to see the marshes sparkling with the first frosts, Common Crane and Great White Egret leaving roost and Otter splashing in the dykes. Read on for wildlife news from across the Suffolk Broads, Carlton Marshes habitat creation updates, and to hear about the volunteers that make it all happen!

There's one great thing about the nights drawing in... it's easier to get up with the sun and see the first light over the marshes! The first frosty mornings of the year have been beautiful and have also yielded some brilliant wildlife. Common Crane, Great White Egret, Stonechat, Otter and flocks of Fieldfares and Redwings are worth getting up for. One of the best places to see Redwing and Fieldfare is past Sprat's Water along the poplar path, where they can often be seen in large numbers in the tall poplar trees. If you head to Carlton, Oulton or Castle at the moment you are sure to see a pair of Stonechat. Head out along the main track or river wall and listen out the sound of flint knocking together, that's the sound of a Stonechat!

Common Crane are one of the target breeding species at the new and improved Carlton Marshes nature reserve. This aspiration feels a little bit closer this week as 2 Common Cranes have been seen roosting regularly on Peto's Marsh. Searching Twitter I found that there have been at least 15 separate sightings of Common Crane in the last 5 years at Carlton Marshes. These sightings are largely flyovers, with groups of as many as 7 cranes seen in the skies over Carlton. It's extremely exciting that they have now decide to touch down on the new habitat creation, especially as it has been designed specifically for them. In 2017 Matt and I visited Lakenheath Fen to have a look the habitats where cranes have been successfully nesting there. With the help of ex-Lakenheath Fen Site Manager, Norman Sills, Matt designed features into the reedbed which will hopefully make it suitable for breeding crane in the future. Finger-crossed this pair stick around!

Another beautiful mural has been completed in Lowestoft by street artist ATM. This time it's a Norfolk Hawker dragonfly, near the Lake Lothing pub. Norfolk Hawker dragonflies, despite the name, are becoming more and more common in Suffolk and Carlton Marshes is a great place to see them in the summer. 

The new hides at the reserve won't be open until next year, when the visitor centre is complete, but to experience some of the improved access at Carlton head to Sprat's Water. Here a new board walk and viewing platform are complete, which will allow part of Sprat's Water to stay open throughout the winter in future. This board walk will eventually link up to new surfaced paths, creating a mile long loop from the visitor centre which will also take in the new accessible hide along the Share Marsh track. 

If you'd like to learn more about the habitat creation and new visitor centre at Carlton Marshes then come along to the Waveney Valley Wildlife group event on December 15th. The Site Manager, Matt Gooch, will give a behind the scenes tour of the new habitat creation. Next year the archeologist, Heather Wallis, will be giving a talk about the archeological dig at Carlton Marshes earlier this year. The dig here uncovered a Saxon spade, a well and a complicated wooden structure, which might have been a fish trap. Heather will be able to give a detailed account of the finds and an idea of what was happening at Carlton Marshes hundreds of years ago. Check 'What's On' for information about upcoming Waveney Valley Wildlife Group events at Carlton Marshes.

Contact:

Ellen Shailes at ellen.shailes@suffolkwildlifetrust.org for more information about volunteering across the Suffolk Broads reserves or

Barry Bradnum at waveneyvalleygroup.swt@gmail.com for more information about the Waveney Valley Wildlife Group

Current volunteering roles:

Dog Ambassador - Carlton Marshes nature reserve and across Lowestoft

Otter monitoring volunteer - Carlton Marshes nature reserve

Learning volunteer - Carlton Marshes nature reserve and across Lowestoft

Heritage Fund

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters and a £4 million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, our vision to buy and restore 384 acres of land for wildlife in the Broads National Park is taking flight.