Fens could provide a new home for a rare bird whose Norfolk habitat could be lost

PUBLISHED: 11:19 24 August 2009 | UPDATED: 09:13 02 June 2010

A bittern in flight

A bittern in flight

A RARE bird whose Norfolk coast habitat could be lost to rising sea levels could be found a new home in The Fens.

The Norfolk Wildlife Trust have submitted a planning application to create a 65-acre wetland beside the River Wissey as a new home for bitter

A RARE bird whose Norfolk coast habitat could be lost to rising sea levels could be found a new home in The Fens.

The Norfolk Wildlife Trust have submitted a planning application to create a 65-acre wetland beside the River Wissey as a new home for bitterns, to replace a section of reed bed at Cley which could become saline as sea levels rise and there is a change in the Norfolk Coast shoreline management.

The former farmland, which is between Hilgay village and the Wissington British Sugar factory, will also provide reed bed and grazing marsh for other wildlife including water voles, dragonflies, otters and grass snakes.

In the future there could also be cranes nesting on the site, said Norfolk Wildlife Trust conservation officer Steve Henson, who is running the project.

Under European Union legislation it is the obligation of the government to replace the habitat which is lost due to a change in shoreline management plans.

Mr Henson said: "Both of these habitats (reedbed and grazing marsh) are priority habitats in Britain."

He said that two pairs of breeding Bitterns would be moved to the site when it starts to mature.

"They will continue at Cley for a number of years but steadily the habitat will come less suitable for them as the site become saline. "It will be slow process", he said.

"The Bitterns will come to Hilgay. They will find the site miraculously. These kind of birds do find the wetland sites. It is a trait of wetland birds. We are confident that they will find the site.

"It will entirely support a whole range of wildlife. We hope that cranes will come to the site as well as bitterns."

"It will take about five years to construct and allow the reed bed to develop and it will take another five years to flood and so that everything can function as we want it to develop."

Although there are no plans to open the site to visitors at present, the future wetland is surrounded by public footpaths and bridleways and it will be from the north and the west perimeter.

Plans for the Hilgay Wetland Creation project have now been submitted to West Norfolk council and will go before the council's development control board.


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