Monday, 21 March 2011

The Marsh Harrier & the Barn Owl on the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads

Neither of these magnificent birds have a voice, they have been endangered in the past due to damage caused by Humans, both are still supposedly protected.
I am lucky to have been able to enjoy watching these stunning birds on a regular basis, they are majestic in flight, beautiful, stealthy predators, yet their lives still hang in the balance. 

As recently as 1971 there was only one known breeding pair of Marsh Harriers left in the UK, this was after they became extinct in the British Isles at the start of the 20th century, but thanks to help and encouragement in the 1920's a small population was restored and started breeding again, only to be almost wiped from the map in the 50's and 60's due to overuse of pesticides.
Since the last known pair in 1971 the population has slowly grown following some migrating from Holland.
 Marsh Harriers live in large and dense reed beds, around lakes, marshes and Rivers, they are ground nesting.

Barn Owls hunt from the air, in large open areas that are a popular habitats for small mammals. This can include the fringes of urban areas, as well as farmland and more natural habitats. Although Barn Owls are not woodland birds they will use woodland edges, rides, and large clearings,  especially those with long grass. 
This beautiful bird has also suffered declines over the past fifty years as a result of the degradation of once prey-rich habitats in the face of intensive agricultural practices 

Both of these remarkable birds are listed as Amber status on the list of conservation importance

I was very lucky last year, I spent much of Summer watching a whole Family of Marsh Harriers, prior to this I'd only ever seen one or two at a time, but at Fritton, (Waveney Forest) me and Jaimie were lucky enough to see 8 Harriers flying from their nest in search of prey. It was one of the most beautiful sights I've seen!

One thing I very quickly learnt is, you have to sit quietly for some time to watch either of these birds of prey in action, but patience nearly always pays off and I sincerely hope I can enjoy watching these majestic creatures forever.
Sadly, I worry this will no longer be the case, for this very place I've watched Barn Owls silently swoop and Harriers soar and glide.

We sat in our usual place, only to see two brand new luminous yellow signs on the River, I expect they've been placed there ready for the Summer tourist season, and it tells me Summer at Fritton will never be the same again.
This is a stretch of the river that was originally marked with a 6mph limit to protect the Wildlife and to prevent erosion etc, but now it seems it's about to be opened up to speedboats.
The sign warns of water skiers!
I feel quite sick!

I'm all up for people enjoying summer however they like so long as it's not hurting anyone, but did anyone think of warning the breeding wildlife as they decided to open up this very peaceful stretch of water to water skiers?
I'll keep you updated
Marsh Harrier at Fritton
We have miles of waterways, why this quiet narrow stretch when we have much larger, wider broads with tourism and sports already in mind?
The new water skiing area!
Home to diverse Wildlife

Home to rare birds, insects, various deer and much more!

To be replaced with Speedboats!

Family of Harriers nesting on new water ski area


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