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 Wensum Connections for People and Wildlife

 Wensum Connections for People and Wildlife

Made possible with the Heritage Fund

Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve

In September 2019, after a successful application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Trust secured a grant to buy an additional 150 acres of land at Sculthorpe. The ambitious project combined restoring habitats, alleviating flood risk, and providing access to visitors and schools to engage with the rich diversity and beauty of the environment

The dream was perfect! The land was purchased, detailed plans were drawn up, and everybody was ready and raring to go - then COVID struck.

Boardwalk 4

There are many things that you build into a management plan but a worldwide pandemic was not one of them. When everything ground to a halt in the UK work at Sculthorpe also stopped and the land stood empty and silent apart from the wildlife. As more was understood about the risks of the virus, outdoor, socially distanced working was deemed safe and any volunteers who wished to work were encouraged to come back. And so, with very strict measures to keep everyone safe, work continued on the new boardwalks to take visitors around the recently purchased land.

Interpretation boards sprung up around the reserve, a livestock building was constructed and the cattle and sheep moved in - vital for conservation grazing and management of the meadows. Calves were born to the Shetland cattle in the spring of 2022 and are already playing their part in grazing the wildflower meadows.

Calf 2

Two new hides were built - Dragonfly Hide, with its sedum roof, solar panels and warm, insulated walls making it ideal to double up as an outdoor classroom - and the stunning Wetland Hide, looking out over the newly created wetland. The fact that we are so proud of here at Sculthorpe was that both hides were built by volunteers. The time and skill that these volunteers brought to the project cannot be underestimated. They are the backbone of all we create.

Wetland hide 1

Boardwalks now snake their way around the new land and wildflowers bloom in the managed meadows. We hold glow worm walks, photography classes, wildflower walks, and mammal trapping courses... We record moths and bats and insects and flora... Visitors come at night to take part in an Owl Prowl, where they are guided around the Reserve listening for the owls and finish in the Visitor Centre for a fish and chip supper. Schools visit for pond dipping and lessons in the Dragonfly Hide. Family Days have the Reserve filled with adults and children watching the bird ringers, pond dipping, following the treasure trails around the boardwalks or just sitting quietly in a hide, watching the wildlife.

And the wildlife! No sooner was the new wetland created then the wildfowl came in. We've had elegant, longlegged Black Wing Stilts wading through the pools, Green Shanks, Red Shanks, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper and visitors such as Cranes, Osprey and even a Sea Eagle. Where once there were Poplar trees cramped close together now the sun shimmers off the wetland and the air is full of the whirr of wings and the calls of the birds.

All of this would not have been possible without the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a grant of £821,000 which supported our vision and guided us through the worrying time of COVID and the very generous private donations by our supporters who raised £1.1million pounds. This little corner of the Wensum Valley is a testament to their kindness and generosity and is now open to all to visit.

Owl Prowl 1

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