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 aremany nature reserves with good access to the marshes and fens to get you
away from the crowds.
The second largest of all the broads
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.