Holkham NNR

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Holkham Hall


Holkham is the most extensive, diverse and dramatic nature reserve on a coastline famous for nature reserves. Windswept tidelines, a maze of creeks and saltings, miles of dunes and sandspits, shady pinewoods, green pastures and marshes: the mix of habitats and the blend of wildlife unite.
The reserve stretches from Burnham Norton to Blakeney and covers about 4,000 hectares. It is possible to explore most of the area by following footpaths from the main settlements or from car parks. The core section of the reserve, from Wells to Holkham Bay, is crisscrossed by paths allowing access to all the best wildlife habitats.
There are three car parks. At Burnham Overy parking is free but there is a charge for summer parking at Lady Anne's Drive and Wells Beach Road. The car parks are linked by the Norfolk Coast Path (a National Trail). To the east of Wells the footpath skirts a large area of saltmarsh and mudflats; tidal creeks are dangerous on a rising tide and this area should be avoided unless you have expert local knowledge.
Growing on the lower-level muddy shores, and transformed by the sea into dense swaying forests, are intertidal carpets of enteromorpha algae and eel-grass. These plants may look unappetising but are the staple diet of one of Holkham's key birds, the brent goose. Several thousand of these Siberian brents overwinter here, grazing in the shallows and roosting on the wide open mudflats among the shelduck and the waders. It may seem odd to seek safety in a place where you can be seen from three miles away but, conversely, nothing can creep up on you. Geese have learned to keep themselves to themselves. The same reasoning applies to seals. You can see both common and grey seals hauled out in the distance and looking like driftwood tree-stumps beside the Blakeney Channel, but getting anywhere close to them is another matter. The best sightings are to be had from the boat trips from Morton and Blakeney.
Birds of the foreshore

Ringed plover - 'broken-wing' distraction display as they entice you away from breeding sites
Oystercatcher - feeding chicks on the beach
Little tern - carrying fish to chicks in the tern colonies
Wheatear -(above) feeding on the tide line on spring migration
Spoonbill breeding

Brent geese - feeding in Holkham Bay
Shelduck - searching for small crust-aceans and molluscs in Holkham Bay
Redshank - feeding in shallow pools
Shorelark - searching actively on pioneer saltmarsh for seeds
Twite - flighting from Holkham Bay to farmland to drink fresh water
Snow bunting - sometimes joining in mixed flocks with shore larks and twite


Holkham to Burnham Overy Staithe (4 miles)

Bird photographs from Holkham
Bird video from Holkham
Holkham on Twitter
Holkham blogs and links
Holkham local services
Birdwatching walks at Holkham

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