The weather today, June 28th, was so poor – heavy rain a lot of the time, coupled with strong winds – I decided to stay indoors and watch a DVD about the marsh harriers which have been nesting at Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve, near Fakenham.
The DVD includes some film, believed to be the first of its kind, of chicks in a marsh harrier nest in reed beds at the moor in 2008.
The film describes how the Sculthorpe Moor Reserve, which covers 30 acres of reedbeds and fen in the Wensum Valley, in Norfolk, was developed and restored during the early years of the current century. The habitats are very important as there is now only about one per cent of them left in East Anglia. Such areas quickly revert to woodland. Sculthorpe Moor is a beautiful place and deservedly considered the flagship reserve of the Hawk and Owl Trust.
Should rising sea levels encroach in future years on sites such as Cley Marshes or RSPB Titchwell, on the north Norfolk coast, reserves like that at Sculthorpe will provide homes for the displaced wildlife.
Marsh harriers are the biggest of the harriers and have a long tail and fly with their wings in a shallow ‘V’. Although they have recovered well in recent years, they are still amber listed with 320 to 380 breeding pairs in the UK. They are mainly found in east and south-east England, flying over reedbeds and marshes and sometimes farmland which is near wetlands.
I also read some of my book, “Hedge Britannia” by Hugh Barker. This quirky book, which was a present from my daughter for “Mother’s Day”, describes the history of the hedge in Britain. Hedges have apparently been described as “linear woodland” because the very earliest ones were created by simply leaving a border of trees and shrubs when a wooded area was cleared. In that way, a remnant of the original forest that covered the island was kept, thus helping the indigenous bats, birds and insects to adapt to living in a hedgerow instead of a wood.Today, of course, hedgerows help connect areas of the landscape, providing all manner of creatures with a means of moving around more safely. Various plant species also find sanctuary in or near a hedge.
The book is a fascinating read and is helping me to learn more about the British countryside.