East Wretham Heath

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East Wreatham
East Wreatham Heath

East Wreatham Heath

The Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve of East wreatham heath lies at the heart of Breckland - a unique landscape containing many heaths and wetlands of great importance for wildlife.The reserve was aquired by the NWT in 1938 and was the first nature reserve to be established in Breckland.
The name Breckland comes from the word 'Breck' which describes land farmed then allowed to revert back to heathland once the soil was exhausted.The area has very sandy soils and an extreme climate with less rainfall, hotter summers and colder winters than the rest of the country.It is this unusual combination of soil,climate and landuse which has given rise to Breckland's many rare birds,plants and insects which are found virtually nowhere else in Britain.

Above: Woodlark Lullula arborea.One of several rare breeding birds in Breckland.

Traditional Grazing
For centuries these grass heaths have been grazed by sheep and rabbits and without this grazing the heath would soon return to scrub.Rabbits were introduced to Breckland in the Middle ages when they were farmed for their fur and meat.The close cropped turf and bare sandy ground produced by their activities are essential for the survival of annual plants and rare invertebrates.Norfolk Wildlife trust is continuing this traditional grazing using both rabbits and sheep and is restoring other neglected areas of heath on the reserve by removing scrub and controlling the spread of bracken.

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One of the most remarkable features of the reserve is the two meres -Langmere and Ringmere.These natural lakes are fed by rising ground water and so their levels change over the year.Levels are highest in the summer after the winter rains and lowest in winter after the summer drought.Sometimes the meres dry up altogether.Birds breeding on the water include little grebe and ducks such as mallard,gadwall and teal.In winter you may see shoveler,wigeon and shelduck.Wading birds are also attracted to areas of exposed mud, such as green sandpiper,ringed plover,curlew and snipe.

Right.Green woodpecker Picus viridisis a common sight (and sound) at East Wreatham.

Free sound recording of Tree PipitFree sound recording of Tree Pipit

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Tree Pipit pic:Armando Caldas

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Langmere Plantation

Langmere Plantation

The reserve contains an old plantation of Scot's pine planted at the time of the Battle of Waterloo.These ancient knarled trees contrast heavily with the regular plantations of Thetford Forest.Tawny owls nest here, along with redstart, crossbill and goldcrest and beneath the trees heather grows in the grassy glades.Old trees sometimes fall and are left to rot,providing a home for many insects,which in turn attract great and green woodpecker.

Free Pdf guide to the birds of Breckland


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Recent bird photographs from East Wretham Heath
Birding Video from East Wretham Heath
East Wretham Heath area tweets
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Local services and accommodation around East Wretham Heath
Suggested birdwatching walks around East Wretham Heath

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