North Norfolk Digital Guide
The unique North Norfolk landscape yields an unrivalled bounty of flora and fauna
Our countryside and coastal strip is blessed with a rich concentration of nature reserves, which enjoy recognition as some of the world's most beautiful 'protected area' designations.
Three quarters of our 43-mile coastline has 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' status, and is managed by a partnership of conservation organisations for the enhancement and preservation of its natural beauty, including its geology, plants and animals, and human history.
There's no better place than the Broads to get up close to some of England's most best-loved wildlife. There are booming bitterns, or playful otters and darting kingfishers, as well as white waterlilies, bee orchids and rare fen orchids. And this is the only place to see one of Britain's largest, rarest and most beautiful butterflies, the swallowtail.
And we're not shy showing off our natural treasure either, as just outside Fakenham you can find Pensthorpe Wildlife Park and Gardens, which was catapulted into the national spotlight when it hosted the popular BBC Springwatch series for three years.
From the silver-studded blue butterflies that skip over Kelling Heath, and the resident colony of grey seals that live at Blakeney Point, there is something for every nature-lover to enjoy.
North Norfolk is known as the national home of birdwatchers. The reeds are filled with birdsong, while overhead marsh harriers, with their wings raised in a distinctive 'V' shape, hobbies and barn owls quarter the skies. Spring and autumn bring hosts of migrant birds, and huge flocks of waders and waterfowl winter here, including the pink-footed goose, which comes all the way from Greenland and Iceland, and the delightful lapwing with its mournful 'pee-wit' call. A visit to one of the reserves is rewarding for both expert watchers or casual tourists. The shingle beaches and lagoons of Cley Marches, for example, Norfolk Wildlife Trust's oldest and best known nature reserve, support many wintering and migrating wildfowl, and have breathtaking sea views too.
Joyful otters are among the most sought-after mammals by wildlife watchers. A sighting is quite rare, but well worth it. So do call around the reserves to find out where they have been seen before you visit. You will also come across deer, including the 'barking' muntjac, water voles, weasels and stoats, and a trip to either Blakeney Point or Horsey for the real grey seal pups is a must.
Insects and Exotica
Keep a look out, too, for the glittering dragonfly, such as those of the Hawker group, which can be seen flitting across the water in late summer. For the really wild at heart, a visit to Amazona Zoo near Cromer will reveal such exotic delights as jaguar, flamingoes and macaws.