Wetland wildflowers, waders and chinese water deer fawns...

Carlton Marshes by Steve Aylward

The wetland reserves are full of young waders, rare marsh plants and cute chinese water deer fawns. Come down to Carlton Marshes and see what you can find, as well as exploring newly opened paths, hides and viewing platforms. 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.

Wildlife will be thankful as the now rainy July washes away all memory of the hot June weather. When the sun comes out again walking along the river walls at Carlton, Oulton and Castle Marshes is a great way to spot butterflies. The skippers are now on the wing, look out for large skippers which can be distinguished from the essex and small skippers by their dark chequered wing markings. Large skippers are one of the many butterfly species which depend on common grasses for their survival, which is why 'messy' areas are so important on nature reserve as well as in your garden.

Gunton Meadow will be especially grateful for this rainy spell, as this year Gunton Meadow is looking a bit sorry for itself with wizened looking orchids and heat scorched agrimony. However, the fen plants at Oulton and Carlton are fine in the squelchy peat. Bog pimpernel is a favourite plant of mine which is now in flower, carpeting the ground throughout Sprat's Water. North Cove nature reserve, which is now managed by the Beccles birds society, is another great place to spot this beautiful plant. The tidal reedbed at Carlton Marshes is covered in marsh pea, a rare plant of wetlands. These wetland areas are home to such a huge diversity of plant species it really is amazing and just as spectacular as the birds! 

It continues to be a successful first year for our breeding waders out on Peto's Marsh. 6 avocet chicks have fledged on the scrape in front of one of the new hides on Peto's Marsh. They have all now learnt the difficult avocet feeding technique, scything their bills through the water to collect insects and crustaceans. This technique is unique to avocet species and uniquely difficult for young birds to learn, making for amusing watching as they make their first clumsy attempts. Another species which had been very successful this year is the chinese water deer, whose gorgeous fawns have been a favourite subject of local photographers. If you spot a chinese water deer out on the marshes stop and wait, you might be delighted by the sight of a tiny fawn trotting along in the rushes. 

In June wardens have been busy building steps and re-erecting wind pumps. The second hide along the river Waveney, over looking Peto's Marsh, is now open to visitors. From this hide you can spot avocet, lapwing, masses of little egrets as well as shelduck trailing their ducklings along behind them. The Share Marsh track is now open again, and visitors can enjoy views over the scrapes from the raised viewing platform. The other two new hides on the site won't be opened until the new visitor centre opens later this year.

Matt Gooch, site manager, spent three long days re-erecting the Castle Marshes wind pump, which blew down last year in a surprising August gale. The wind pump is now in working order again, filling dykes and scrapes with life-bringing water, creating suitable habitat for wading birds and dragonflies. Wind pumps are an efficient and eco-friendly way of pumping water, providing the opposite function that wind pumps historically served across the broads, which used to pump water off the land for agriculture. We now pump water onto the land for wildlife!

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.