self catering holiday cottage accommodation, Wroxham, Norfolk Broads
Wherry, 25 Peninsula Cottages, Wroxham, Norfolk, Norfolk Broads

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Norfolk Broads as a wildlife conservation area, National Park
Heron standing on terrace of holiday cottage with river in background
Hickling Broad Visitor Centre
 Ranworth Broad boardwalk and Visitor Centre

The Norfolk Broads is Britain's largest nationally protected wetland and is designated as a National Park. The term broad actually refers to the shallow lakes but the area known as The Broads is made up of rivers, marshes, fens damp woodlands, grazing marshes and estuarine areas all of which combine to make it fantastic for wildlife, which includes a number of very rare and specialised species.

There is always wildlife to see in the Norfolk Broads but there is more to see in spring and early summer. Birds are among the most conspicuous of the wildlife and year round residents include kingfishers, herons and three kinds of feral geese: Canada, greylag and the colourful Egyptian goose. There are a variety of warblers and the specialities are bearded reedling, marsh harrier and bittern.

The Broads are excellent for damselflies and dragonflies including a speciality insect of the area, the Norfolk hawker, a large species found only in East Anglia. In late spring, swallowtails are on the wing, arguably Britain's most spectacular butterfly.

One of the Broads' most important features is the great variety of plants. The fens alone have over 250 species.

In winter, the Broads continue to offer plenty of wildlife, dominated by birds. There is a variety of ducks and if you're lucky you might see Bewick swans. Look out too for hen and marsh harriers and cranes.

There are many nature reserves with good access to the marshes and fens to get you away from the crowds.

Barton Broad

The second largest of all the broads

Hickling Broad

Hickling Broad is owned and managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. The reserve encompasses areas of open water, fen, scrape, grazing marsh and dykes.

Ranworth Broad (see photo; left)

Ranworth Broad has a well-laid-out boardwalk trail which leads to a floating visitor centre and bird observation hide.

Click here to find short 5 minute BBC videos on butterflies and cranes of the Norfolk Broads on BBC interactive map.

Find out more about butterflies on BBC interactive map