Thursday, 30 August 2012

Rangers surprised by celebrity arrival at nature reserve

Following on from the weekend's Countryfile episode and the Guardian article, we were in the newspapers agan this week with a different story.

This one involved a celebrity visiting us back in April in a somewhat unusual mode of transport, a helicopter!

Ranger Joe was alerted to the low-flying aircraft which then landed east of the lifeboat house. We always make a note of any low-flying aricraft as this can potentially cause disturbance to wildlife, which is particularly sensitive during the bird breeding season or when wildfowl are present in huge numbers in the winter.

Joe, who is one of the four staff living on the Point, was immediately on hand to speak to the pilot and saw that Jay Kay from Jamiroquai was one of the passengers. They were very polite and apologetic and took off again. We later sent a polite letter explaining our concerns and they phoned to apologise.

Fortunately as this happened when birds were still arriving, there was no impact on the breeding birds and the helicopter didn't leave a footprint.

It goes to show though how important it is to have people in the right place to best look after the wildlife and precious landscape.

A rangers work is always varied and you never know what may happen.

Amazingly 5 months later this story was exciting enough to be picked up the Daily Mirror and the Daily Star!

http://www.northnorfolknews.co.uk/news/rare_visitor_shocks_rangers_as_jamiroquai_s_jay_kay_lands_helicopter_on_blakeney_point_1_1495986

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/jamiroquai-star-jay-kay-ticked-1284490#.UD8_2FIlgEI.twitter

http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/view/269533/A-fair-copter-for-Jay-Kay/

Victoria
Countryside Manager

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Blakeney Point - a media star?

It has been a busy weekend in the media for Blakeney Point and our role in caring for it over the last 100 years.

On Saturday we featured in a Guardian article entitled 'Do we still need nature reserves?' that captured the nature conservation value of the area, our role in caring for it and the challenges we face, and the spirit of the place.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/aug/24/blakeney-point-coastal-nature-reserve-centenary

Then on Bank Holiday monday we had more national media coverage where we featured in BBC's Countryfile Summer Special show based around our centenary of our ownership of Blakeney Point.

In case you missed it, it is here for the next 6 days. You can see Blakeney Point, John Craven, Iain, Eddie and myself between 9m40 and 15m. The seals performed well, as did Iain & Eddie!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/b01mfhrl/

As if that wasn't enough, my favourite walk is featured in the EDP Norfolk September issue on p98 as part of the National Trust's walking festival from 1st September to the 4th November.

As part of the festival we are running a birdwatching walk on the 14th September meeting at Morston Quay at 10am for a stroll to Blakeney looking for Autumn migrrants. Booking essential, £7, 0844 2491895.

We are also running a Hop, Skip, Jump and a Walk on the 12th October, 9.45am. Hop on the Coasthopper at Morston with our coastal ranger; skip down to Stiffkey, where you will jump off and start your 3.5 mile walk along the Norfolk Coastal Path. Booking essential, £10, 0844 2491895.

UPDATE

As if that wasn't enough, today we have had coverage on a celebrity visitor to Blakeney Point arriving in a somewhat unusual mode of transport! This highlights one of the reasons why it is so important we have rangers based in the best lcoation to care for the wildlife.

http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/rare_visitor_shocks_rangers_as_jamiroquai_s_jay_kay_lands_helicopter_on_blakeney_point_1_1495986


Victoria Francis
Countryside Manager

Monday, 27 August 2012

26th of August: 24 Shades of Greenish

Blakeney Point confirmed its reputation as one of the top sites in the UK to see Greenish Warbler yesterday, as one was found on Near Point at midday, the 24th record for the Point, and the 8th in as many years.

Although elusive at first, the bird soon moved to an isolated bramble bush in the dunes where it showed superbly for the rest of the day, even encouraging a few twitchers to make the long walk up. Greenish Warblers breed East of the Baltic, and migrate to India for the winter, but this young bird (aged by its fresh plumage) has clearly taken a wrong turn somewhere.

Greenish Warbler (Joe Cockram)

Earlier in the month, three  of our staff went on a course to learn how to monitor small mammals. We've borrowed a few Longworth traps and set them around the Lifeboat House to see what species we have present. Here's a very cute Wood Mouse, the large eyes betray it as being largely nocturnal, explaining why we very rarely see them.
 Wood Mouse (Bee Bueche)

The Point looking colourful at high tide (Bee Bueche)

- Joe

Saturday, 25 August 2012

25th of August: Back to the Point

Over the past few days we have been monitoring a large high tide roost of waders on the beach. This roost has consisted of large numbers of Ringed Plovers, Dunlin and Oystercatchers, peaking at 300, 90 and 800 respectively. Numbers were at their highest when the spring tides were biggest. Today numbers have dropped off a little, but we did find this very special visitor amongst the Ringed Plovers...

Dotterel (Joe Cockram)

The roost was on the beach at Far Point, where our largest Little Tern colony was just a few weeks ago. With all of the tern colonies having been vacated until next year, we have been removing the fenceline which protected the colonies from human disturbance. This left us a little worried about the disturbance that may potentially be caused to the wader roost. Yesterday a boat landed and a group of people disturbed all of the waders by walking along the beach towards them. After feeding in the harbour at low tide, the birds need this time at high tide to rest before going off to feed again.

Whilst watching the Dotterel we heard and then saw two Roseate Terns performing spectacular power dives just off shore and two Black Terns also passed. Whilst watching the terns, it began to rain. Eddie cheekily huddled underneath Richard Porter's umbrella for cover. Can anybody suggest what Richard was thinking?

Common Seal pup (Joe Cockram)

There have been several Pied Flycatchers seen on the Point in the past few days. Seven were seen yesterday.
Pied Flycatcher on our washing line (Joe Cockram)

Rainbow over the wind farm (Richard Porter)

- Eddie

Friday, 17 August 2012

Tidal Lands Exhibition

As part of the Blakeney Point centenary celebrations, there will be an exhibition in Blakeney Village Hall. It is called 'Tidal Lands' and has been organised by the National Trust in partnership with the Blakeney Area Historical Society. Visitor Services Manager, Iain Wolfe, has been working very hard putting the display boards together.

Come along and see the exhibition from Saturday the 18th to Tuesday the 21st of August (open 10.30am to 4pm daily). Admission is free. Well worth a visit if you are nearby, come and see what Victoria and Chris have been untangling...


Since we blogged about Countryfile, the transmission date has changed again. It will be shown on Monday the 27th of August at 6pm. Here is a link to the BBC page with more information on the programme.

Also, a very brief summary of life on the Point, by Ajay, appeared on the National Trust press office blog today.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

16th of August: Migrants galore

Yesterday's easterly winds brought in a variety of special birds from the continent. Two Honey Buzzards, a Purple Sandpiper, two Wood Sandpipers, a Curlew Sandpiper, two Black Terns, a Little Gull, two Wrynecks, two Tree Pipits, three Wheatears, a Redstart, four Whinchats, 15 Willow Warblers, two Reed Warblers and twelve Pied Flycatchers were all recorded. Although a small number of Honey Buzzards breed in Norfolk, migration along the coast is almost zero unless birds from the continent are drifted over by easterly winds, the birds we saw were almost undoubtedly continental in origin, as were all of the other migrants mentioned.

Honey Buzzard (Joe Cockram)

Black Tern (Joe Cockram)

Another arrival was Patrick Barkham, a journalist for The Guardian. It's not often that the author of the book you've just read comes to stay with you. His book 'The Butterfly Isles' tells of his quest to see all of the UK butterfly species in one year. Patrick was here to research the history of Blakeney Point and the value of nature reserves in the UK. He will produce an article very soon.

This morning, Patrick accompanied us around the reserve. Whilst going about our morning rounds, we observed three species of falcon (Kestrel, Hobby and Peregrine) and a few lingering migrants (a Pied Flycatcher, Garden Warbler and four Willow Warblers). We crossed Pinchen's Creek on foot at low tide, where the previous evening Patrick had arrived by boat, and took him on a tour down Far Point to see the now vacated Sandwich Tern colony. Patrick seemed to have a wonderful time and we look forward to reading his article.

Hare (Joe Cockram)

- Joe

Fancy a wild weekend on the Norfolk Broads?



The remote island of Heigham Holmes, in the Norfolk Broads is gearing up for a wild weekend as it opens in a once-a-year chance to explore this hidden haven.

Visiting an island is an adventure in itself, but to have a go at snail racing or pond dipping and the chance to discover creatures of the night on a twilight walk – it’s a great way of getting more families enjoying the great outdoors and closer to nature.

This year marks 25 years of the Island being in the care of the National Trust and within that time, with the help of the tenant farmer, improved management has and meant wildlife is now thriving in this small corner of Norfolk. Marsh harriers, barn owls, bittern and crane all inhabit the reserve, along with wading birds such as lapwing and redshank. Look out for butterflies and dragonflies on your visit.

So, why not walk on the wild side on Saturday 18 August and discover more? There will be the rare chance to go off the beaten track with the Warden on a specially organised walk looking for wildlife (10.30am and 12.30pm). Alternatively, there’s the rare chance to visit in the twilight hours (8pm – 10.30pm) and enjoy a night time walk in search of owls, moths, bats and other creatures. You’ll love the antics of the barn owls on 'Barn Owl Cam'.

Then on Sunday 19 August, between 10am to 4.30pm, visit this wonderful nature reserve at your own pace. Come and learn about its special history and its importance for wildlife in the Broads. Activities include face painting, pond dipping and other children's activities including highly dramatic snail racing (2.30pm), a self guided trail, and much more!



Steve Prowse the Warden for Heigham; “We all know the importance of getting our families out and about into the fresh air, experiencing the outdoors and creating memories that will last a lifetime. So we’ve arranged a whole host of activities to engage with our younger visitors, many of which are on the National Trust’s 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ list. It’s a popular day out and we’re really looking forward to welcoming more families to the reserve this year.”

Light refreshments available. Access is via a swing bridge at Martham Ferry (TG 445 194). Dogs welcome on a lead please. Car parking sign posted off Ferrygate Lane, Black Street, Martham.

If you would like to book for one of the guided walks on Saturday 18 August, please e-mail heigham.holmes@nationaltrust.org.uk<mailto:heigham.holmes@nationaltrust.org.uk> or call 01493393450
Adults £5, children £2

-          ends –

For further press information please contact Jemma Finch on 01284 747571, or e-mail jemma.finch@nationaltrust.org.uk<mailto:jemma.finch@nationaltrust.org.uk>

Notes to Editor:

1.  The Heigham Holmes Open Day is organised by the National Trust in partnership with the Broads Authority.
2.  The National Trust acquired Heigham Holmes in 1987, with grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, World Wide Fund for Nature and the Natural England.
3.  The National Trust, working with its tenant farmer, has successfully restored intensively managed farmland back to grassland. Water levels have been re-instated; new dykes have been created, as have pools and shallow foot drains – creating an internationally important wetland.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Time Team visit: a personal view from the local warden

Since becoming warden it has been a dream of mine to expand our knowledge of the site at Branodunum. Countless times I have been asked where the site of the fort is by people standing in the middle of it. The disappointment is rarely concealed when they realise all we have to show them are some grassy mounds.

There is an old adage that you should never meet your heroes, unfortunately I had no choice in this when it became obvious that Time Team were to dig at Branodunum. I, like many of you reading this, have spent the last 20 years watching Time Team on Sunday evenings, know all the names and have my favourites in the team. I have to also admit to being almost word perfect to every Blackadder episode! Unlike my immediate boss who quickly admitted she had never seen either an episode of Time Team or Blackadder, there was talk of having her banned from the site!

Now I had to act professionally when meeting these people, this started on the day before the dig when the Location Manager arrived to prepare the site, Kerry Ely! 14 year veteran of the series, quickly followed by John Gator and his geophysics team to test their equipment.

In the evening there was a production meeting as the rest of the team assembled, on more than one occasion I had to stop myself saying hello to people I knew. The reason? Although I knew them like old friends, they didn’t know me from Adam. They were almost all there; Matt Williams, Raksha Dave, Cassie Newland and Francis Pryor, I could go on but that would be just name dropping. (I was looking over Jimmy Adcock’s from geophys team shoulder at the prelimary results).

The questions we had asked at the beginning of the dig were:
1. What was the building date for the latest fort?
2. Was there an earlier fort on the site because the vicus is at a different alignment to the fort? 3. Are there any stones left from the walls?

The first morning of the dig started with Time Team's star digger arriving, Dr. Phil Harding, wearing the hat we all associate with him, and soon that familiar laugh was heard. After more geophys the first turf was cut at 11.50 and Phil was put to work. A second target was soon found and Cassie’s trench was started. It was soon obvious that the geophysics was not only pretty special on this site but when a trench was put in; the archaeology matched it.

What's in the box?
Tune in next year and find out.

Over the three days, five trenches were opened: Phil’s over the main building showing on crop marks inside the fort; Cassie’s over the only other building showing as a crop mark inside the fort; Raksha’s over the outer wall near the northern entrance gate; Matt’s in the north field investigating a possible earlier fort and Rob’s in the vicus field. The person I would like to give special praise to on this dig is Graeme Atwood from the geophys team who must have covered miles and miles, I believe it is a record amount for one person to have done. Of course I cannot say exactly what was found but none of the trenches disappointed, with some of them outstanding.

I would like to dispel some rumours at this point. The digging does only take place over three days, no exploratory test pits. Diggers arrive on-site for the first time on the first morning.
All the diggers are in the trenches all day only breaking for lunch, not just turning up for filming.
Despite the three-day limit, the archaeology is carried out to the highest standard which resulted at Branodunum in less trenches being dug because the archaeology found was so good.

Finally I can recommend if your heroes match up to mine then you should meet them, I have fantastic memories of the Time Team visit including being told of the Brownlee gold and bronze medal by Tony Robinson while grabbing a cup of tea, rubbing shoulders with the whole crew at a Roman feast including local oysters and beer and Raksha leading a hummed rendition of the theme tune after Tony’s wrapping up speech.
Filming the Roman feast

Although currently Branodunum has now returned to grassy mounds and a weird quietness, following the broadcast of the programme next spring and the return of the artefacts after cataloguing, which may take a year, we will hopefully be able to update our interpretation with much more information to make any visits more enjoyable. In the meantime if you visit Branodunum and see someone wearing rose-tinted glasses and wearing a Time Team bracelet looking longingly at the ground it could be me and my memories of a visit from Time Team.

Keith Miller
Coastal Warden,
Brancaster
Keith with his signed picture of the Time Team
All photos: Victoria Francis

Monday, 13 August 2012

13th of August: Autumn migration starting to pick up

Blakeney Point has a proud reputation for being one of the best sites on mainland Britain for witnessing autumn bird migration, and although the season has barely begun, we're already living up to our high quality standards. An easterly wind over the last few days has drifted birds across the North Sea as they move South from Scandinavia and head to wintering grounds in Africa. 

The best birds seen do far have been an Icterine Warbler this afternoon( unfortunately in a part of the reserve with no public access), and a Red-backed Shrike yesterday evening.



There have also been plenty of commoner migrants, with a dozen Pied Flycatchers today, along with a few Whinchats.


It is still very early in the season, so this is hopefully just a taster of what we have to come in the next few months.

All photos (and text): Joe Cockram

Time Team Digital video clips

Here are a few of the Time Team Digital video clips from their time with us on the Norfolk Coast at Branodunum SAM, Roman Fort. Gives a flavour of what was happening over the 3 days! More are available on the Time Team Digital web page.

This one gives an overview of all of the happenings of the final dig of Series 20. A really nice summary! Spot Angus Wainwright, our regional archaeologist and warden Keith Miller in it.

 Hear about the amazing geophys and spot warden Keith in the background of this one.

Both these videos feature Angus, our regional archaeologist who got his hands dirty in the trenches.


Here's a quick summary of the 3 days from Tim with a rather nice acknowledgement to us for our hard work and help!

And here's Tim talking to Angus and I summing up the experience for us!

Victoria Francis
Countryside Manager


Friday, 10 August 2012

Time Team 'finds' warm welcome on the Norfolk Coast

10 August 2012

Time Team ‘finds’ warm welcome on the Norfolk Coast

Over the past three days, the Time Team crew have been investigating the National Trust managed Branodunum roman fort near Brancaster on the north Norfolk coast.

The National Trust has looked after the site which nestles next to the internationally important coastal reserve since 1967. The last archaeological dig took place in the 1930s and Time Team’s visit has revealed more about the site than anyone thought possible.


Although the fort area and neighbouring civilian settlement (vicus) have been well documented before, the combination of ground imaging and exploratory trenches has painted a clear picture of not only the layout of the fort but also brought to life some of the stories of the people who lived here nearly two thousand years ago.

Francis Pryor, archaeologist and site director said; “In three days we’ve achieved as much as many archaeological teams could in a month. We’ve undertaken a complete survey of the fort and large areas of surrounding land.  We’ve gained unparalleled and unexpected insights into the way that communities lived here in the Roman period.”

John Gator, Time Team ‘geophys’ expert said; “I haven’t enough superlatives to describe this site. Because the site has been protected for so long we have had amazingly clear results. Not many buildings showed physically so ground radar has revealed the site in all its glory. We have had the best results of any Time Team dig I’ve been involved with.”

Phil Harding, one of Time Team’s most famous members was excited by some of the finds; “I have to say I’ve been blown away with the sheer impressiveness of this site; from the really big stuff to the small personal ‘finds’. The two disciplines of ground radar and digging have enabled us to bring this place to life again.  We’ve had masses of finds, more than we could have anticipated and some of them hugely exciting.”

David Gurney, Historic Environment Manager at Norfolk County Council who has been monitoring the excavations said; “Once all the results are processed, our understanding of this important Roman site will be significantly enhanced, and the story of Branodunum will probably have to be rewritten.”


Victoria Francis, Countryside Manager for the National Trust on the North Norfolk coast invited them along.  She said; “It’s been an amazing few days and we had to keep a lot of it secret in case the excavation site became too crowded.  What’s been really gratifying though is how many people and organisations worked together to make this happen on a protected and fragile site.  English Heritage, Norfolk County Council, Natural England, Kings Lynn Archaeological Society and the local community all came together to enable us to dig into the history of this stunning part of Norfolk.

“Our understanding of this site has grown hugely and it’s been gratifying to hear from the Time Team archaeologists that the main reason it’s such a good site to explore is that it’s been protected from disturbance for 40 years or so. By working with the local parish council and common rights holders we’ve managed to ensure that the history of this stretch of the Norfolk Coast can be understood more clearly and help us tell the story to local people and visitors.”


Although the dig was kept a closely guarded secret, Time Team agreed that the National Trust could offer limited access to the local community for them to be able to see the excavations happening and chat to some of the Time Team.

Victoria concluded; “I can’t wait for the show to be aired in the spring as there are some amazing finds that we can’t say anything about just yet. I’ve loved every minute of it, as have all of our team helping out. I overheard Tony Robinson, the presenter, saying ‘this is what archaeology is all about’ and I’m so pleased Branodunum surpassed all of our expectations.”

Photos: Victoria Francis, Nick Champion

- ends -

For further press information please contact Nick Champion on 07702 640758 or e-mail nick.champion@nationaltrust.org.uk


Notes to editors:
  
The National Trust cares for 300 inspiring historic houses and gardens across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. From former workers' cottages to the most iconic stately homes, and from mines and mills to theatres and inns, the stories of people and their heritage are at the heart of everything it does. People of all ages, individuals, schools and communities get involved each year with its projects, events and working holidays and over 61,000 volunteers help to bring the properties alive for the Trust's 4.2 million members. Find out more at: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/

Branodunum Roman fort is bounded by the modern village of Brancaster to the west, and the A149 road to the south. The site is maintained by the National Trust. The fort, built in the 230s, became later part of the Saxon Shore fortification system. It was built to guard the Wash approaches and is of a typical rectangular ‘castrum’ layout. According to the 4th-century document Notitia Dignitatum the fort was garrisoned by the Equites Dalmatae Brandodunenses (Dalmatian cavalry of Bran[d]odunum) although a tile found on the site stamped Cohors 1 Aquitanorum suggests that its original garrison was the First cohort from Aquitania.

In Roman times, the fort's northern wall lay directly on the seashore, which served as a harbour. Since then, the shoreline has receded, and the fort now lies inland. The fort was of a rectangular shape with rounded corners, with a 10 ft (2.9 m) wide wall with internal turrets at the corners and backed by an earthen rampart, which increased the wall's strength and gave easy access to the battlements. In front of the wall there was a V-shaped single ditch. The wall thus enclosed an area of 2.56 ha. In typical castrum fashion, the fort had four gates, one on each side.

Evidence of the eastern and western gates and of flanking towers survives. Aerial survey has revealed the existence of several buildings in the fort's interior, including the principia.  A civilian settlement (vicus) existed on the eastern and northern sides of the fort, which has been dated to the 2nd century AD. Its size would make it one of the largest settlements in the territory of the Iceni tribe. Because the streets of the settlement are not aligned with the layout of the fort, it has been hypothesised that an earlier fort, built of timber, existed at the site, possibly from as early as the revolt of Queen Boudicca in the mid-1st century AD.

The walls still stood up to 12 feet tall (4 metres) in the seventeenth century, but robbing of materials during following centuries means that only the site and the earthworks now remain.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

8th of August: The very hungry caterpillar

The weather has been mostly fair over the last few days with a south westerly wind and some extremely sunny periods. The wind, although very light, changed today to north and then east north east. Things seem calm and relaxed as we watch our young birds fledge and learn to fend for themselves. Twelve Little Tern chicks, a juvenile Arctic Tern and two Ringed Plover chicks were seen at the Watch House this evening and the Sandwich Tern chicks are fishing quite proficiently by themselves all around the Point.

Some migrants have been passing through. Waders are on the move at this time of year and flocks of Oystercatchers have been moving west. The harbour is filling up with Whimbrel, Grey Plover and Turnstone.
Turnstone (Joe Cockram)

Yesterday saw Nightingale, Pied Flycatcher, Stonechat and Whinchat, three Yellow Wagtails, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Wheatear, Cuckoo, Hobby and an adult Yellow-legged Gull.
Yellow-legged Gull (Joe Cockram)

Today the Cuckoo, Hobby and Wheatear were seen again, as well as two more Yellow Wagtails and a Sand Martin. Short-eared Owls sightings continue to be frequent in the dunes, two distinctive birds are easily identifiable by their different stages of moult. Marsh Harrier sightings have been less frequent, however four juvenile Marsh Harriers and a female were seen together a week ago, presumably the juveniles had all fledged from the same nest on the mainland and headed out to the point together.

In the garden, behind the Lifeboat House, Linnets rattle the dried Lupin seed pods as they fly from the bushes. Amongst the Brambles we found several Emperor Moth caterpillars. Emperor Moths are one of the largest species of moth in the UK, therefore it is no surprise that their caterpillars are also large and very hungry.
Emperor Moth caterpillar in the garden (Bee Bueche)

- Eddie

Sunday, 5 August 2012

5th of August: Blakeney Point celebrates it's centenary

Today Blakeney Point celebrated 100 years of protection and management by the National Trust. In 1912 the Point was purchased for the Trust by Charles Rothschild (founder of what later became the Wildlife Trust movement) and Professor Oliver (UCL) in order to protect and preserve the amazing flora and fauna, for which it is still famous today. Back then Bob Pinchen, a local wildfowler and gunner, was just crossing the dividing line between shooting and conservation and became the Trust's first 'Watcher'. Bob was a rum ol chap and a far cry from the wardens of today. In 2012 the team has expanded and much has changed. The only thing that hasn't changed is the need to protect the Point's now internationally important wildlife. It almost seemed an anticlimax after 100 years of hard work by six wardens, countless other members of staff, the illustrious members of its advisory committee, the late nights put in by Iain Wolfe to organise the event and all of the local people who have contributed to and enjoyed the reserve over the years. But the day was a great success. It was relaxed, beautifully warm and enjoyed by all who attended. We all think that it was a fitting celebration of a wonderful reserve. To celebrate we held a day of guided walks and unveiled a new commemorative plaque of the Point, toasted with a glass of buck's fizz and a cake in the shape of the Lifeboat House made by Victoria Francis and Brian Egan.

Photo by Richard Porter

Photo by Edward Stubbings

Photo by Richard Porter

Photo by Victoria Francis

The guided walks were a great success and, apart from talking about the social history of the Point, we saw a Hobby chasing Starlings and Swallows, Grayling and Gatekeeper butterflies and this handsome Pied Flycatcher (below). A great day.
Photo by Joe Cockram

More photographs of the centenary celebrations can be found here

- Eddie

Friday, 3 August 2012

Latest Position Statement 3 August 2012



3 August 2012

Position statement from John Sizer, National Trust Property Manager for the North Norfolk Coast on Marine Conservation Zones, Blakeney Reference Area and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s appeal to buy Cley Marshes:

“The National Trust has looked after Blakeney Point for 100 years and, along with many other organisations in this area, balances the interests of nature conservation with public enjoyment and traditional activities to protect this fragile and dynamic coastline for future generations to enjoy.

“We are supportive of the creation of 127 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) around the country’s coastline and believe that an integrated approach to the many current layers of protection will benefit biodiversity, seascape and local communities. The process to create MCZs runs alongside the development of the Marine Plan for the East Inshore and Offshore areas and it is important to ensure we get the process right as it will influence the other plans coming forward over the coming years.

“As part of Marine Conservation Zones, ‘Reference Areas’ are being put forward to provide a scientific benchmark for the wider conservation zone. We have serious concerns about the consultation process and science associated with the current process for the selection of these areas. We welcome therefore the recent advice from Natural England and JNCC to government that ‘the process to identify reference areas was flawed’ and we feel that this is especially relevant to the recommended reference area, rRA4, Blakeney Marsh. We urge the Government to put in place a revised process that leads to Reference Areas being placed in the right locations, where they are workable and underpinned by genuine local consultation and sound science.

“We don’t think that Blakeney saltmarsh is the right place for a Reference Area or that the right level of stakeholder or local community consultation has been carried out. The proposed area is already protected by many layers of European and national protection, is in a favourable condition, is important for the area in terms of recreation and has been traditionally used sensitively by local people to earn their livelihood for generations. 

“We are keen to work with others to find an alternative site. We will work hard in the public consultation next year to press home our points. We hope that those responsible will involve conservation organisations like the National Trust and the local community to ensure the right outcomes for this special place.”

And on Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s appeal to buy Cley Marshes:

“We fully support Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s appeal to add to the NWT Cley marshes nature reserve. Just as the National Trust took Blakeney Point on exactly 100 years ago to become the first Nature Reserve in Norfolk; so too was Norfolk the first Wildlife Trust in the country, so they have a proud heritage of looking after nature in this part of the country and are the right people to take on this stretch of marsh which joins their current reserve. We have always had a close working relationship with them and as ever look forward to working together to ensure the right outcomes for people and wildlife.

“Like us, they support the creation of Marine Conservation Zones around the country with a view to adding a significant layer of protection for biodiversity and seascape. We understand that they have said nothing about supporting any specific reference areas in Blakeney and await the public consultation.”

Notes to editors:

  1. Blakeney Point was the first nature reserve in Norfolk. It was bought via public appeal in 1912 and was handed to the National Trust the same year.

  1. Blakeney National Nature Reserve forms part of one of the largest expanses of undeveloped coastal habitat in Europe. The reserve consists of extensive inter-tidal muds and sands, saltmarshes, shingle banks and sand dunes, as well as important freshwater grazing marshes and reedbeds.

  1. For more details please see the Blakeney Point web pages on the National Trust website:  www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-blakeney

  1. The Trust aspires to deliver Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) within its site management and its advocacy at local, regional and national levels..

  1. Our Neptune coastline campaign has been running for nearly 50 years and has enabled over 700 miles of coastline to come into the Trust’s stewardship.  The Trust has considerable interests in the marine environment, including inter-tidal and sub-tidal habitats that extend to over 8,000 Ha. 

  1. Our core purpose is to look after special places for ever and for everyone.  Around 60 of the proposed inshore MCZs and 13 of the Reference Areas adjoin or include National Trust ownership.  We have a role to play in caring for these newly described special places in the inshore marine environment

For more information please contact:

      John Sizer
      Property Manager, Norfolk Coast, National Trust
      01263 740241/07879 486146

Nick Champion
Regional Communications Manager, National Trust, East of England
01284 747558 / 07702 640758

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Writer in residence

As part of our centenary celebrations of owning and looking after Blakeney Point we invited EDP journalist Steve Downes to be a 'writer in residence' for 5 days living and working as one of the wardens/rangers, based in the iconic former lifeboat house.

As well as guest blogging and tweeting about his experiences whilst he was with us (check out the early July archives), he summed it all up in this very nice article that was featured in the EDP last weekend.

Rather than repeating it here, it's definitely worth a read as Steve's writing is superb! Here are the last few sentences:


"It is impossible to do justice to Blakeney Point with words, as its beauty is beyond my descriptive skills.
But I would urge you to see it for yourself. Either check the tides and join a boat trip, or trudge along the shingle spit.
For my part, five days on the Point was transformational. It gave me an even deeper love for this county that I am blessed to call home. And it made me appreciate the natural world, perhaps for the first time.
I took with me to the Point a degree of naivety, laced with enthusiasm to learn.
I brought away a determination to look up and around me as I walk, to speak to my children about nature, and to try to spend more time away from the distractions of daily life.
Not to mention a new – grudging – respect for flies."

Thanks Steve, you totally get what drives our passion for looking after this special place for ever, for everyone and the feedback from the folks on the Point is that you were a good ranger!

Victoria Francis - Countryside Manager

Weird snake-like creature spotted at Blakeney Point

We were recently approached by BBC Wildlife magazine to help identify a weird snake-like creature that was spotted on Blakeney National Nature Reserve (NNR) which includes Blakeney Point.

This intrigued us, what could it be? There are no snake records for Blakeney NNR so could this be the long awaited sighting?

The photo didn't show a snake but a long, thin, armoured greater pipefish so you can see why you could think it was one! We provided 200 or so words about the fish and it is currently on the shelf in the Q&A section of the September issue.

Have you seen a pipefish on the Norfolk Coast? We too would love to know if you have seen a snake in the Blakeney area, north of the coast road.

My top tip would be to keep your eyes peeled, there's always something new and unusual to discover with nature!

Victoria, Countryside Manager