Norfolk nature reserve celebrates launch of massive expansion

Today, September 9 2019, almost 100 key supporters gathered to raise a glass and celebrate the launch of a major 3-year project at Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve. Earlier this summer the Hawk and Owl Trust who manage the reserve near Fakenham in Norfolk purchased the two parcels of land adjoining the existing nature reserve, extending it from 45 acres to over 200 acres.

David Lindo - The Urban Birder - well-known broadcaster, writer, naturalist, photographer, public speaker and tour leader, ceremonially launched the project by digging the first couple of digger buckets-full of soil from an area that will become a new open water scrape, designed to encourage wildlife, including scarce migratory birds, on part of the new land.

The land on either side of Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve was purchased using funds raised through the amazing generosity of the public and major donors such as Heritage Fund (previously Heritage Lottery Fund), Viking Optical, Garfield Weston Trust and the Norfolk LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) as part of a £1.7million pound project.

The launch of this 3-year project marks the beginning the on-going development and maintenance of the area as a nature reserve and community project. The Trust’s vision for Sculthorpe Moor is one where a rich ecosystem co-exists with the local community. Access for all is, and always has been, an essential part of what makes the reserve special. This project contains a large element of allowing everyone, no matter what their mobility and abilities, to enjoy, connect with and learn from the wildlife and countryside around them.

The popular and highly-regarded existing reserve is recognised as being important for its wildlife, with breeding Marsh Harriers, Barn Owls and a range of other birds of prey and owls making their homes on this small area, which is also the national headquarters of the Hawk and Owl Trust. Over the next three years the project will ensure that the new parts of the reserve will become equally attractive and essential for a whole host of wildlife such as Marsh Tits, Brambling, Cetti’s Warblers, Bearded Reedlings, Bullfinches and Kingfishers. Wild flowers will be encouraged, meaning insects will be abundant and diverse and mammals including Otter and Water Vole will make the new reserve their home.  

David Lindo, The Urban Birder’ said “There’s so much wildlife here it’s incredible and I’m so amazed by the amount of love that’s been shown to the Trust and reserve over the past two years of the appeal by the donors, supporters and volunteers.

Nigel Middleton, Sculthorpe Moor Reserve Manager, said “It was 18 years ago, cutting my way onto the overgrown land of Sculthorpe Moor, whilst monitoring Marsh Harriers nesting in the valley of the River Wensum that I first experienced what would become the reserve. From that point on I’ve dreamed and believed that we could expand the reserve and turn it into a significant place for wildlife and community. To reach this point is just amazing, and we couldn’t have done it without our fantastic volunteers.”

Adrian Blumfield, Chief Operations Director, H&OT said “Only with the generosity of over 1,300 individual donors has allowed us to start to realise Nigel’s vision for the reserve. Expanding the land is the first step. Now this drastic looking work will ensure a wonderful habitat for wildlife for the future. It will be astonishing how quickly this settles and starts attracting birds and other creatures.”

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