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Published January 23rd 2020
Spot wildlife and birds in the Norfolk Broads
The Norfolk Broads is a protected network of rivers and lakes. They were formed in Medieval times when peat excavations were flooded with water. As a navigable waterway, the Broads are used for leisure boating, boat tours and sailing.
These waterways provide the ideal habitat for a range of wildlife including birds, reptiles and insects. Hickling Broad is the widest broad and is a popular place to visit especially in the summer months.
Hickling Broad in Norfolk is a beautiful sight in winter
Follow the brown street signs along a narrow lane leading from Hickling Village and you will find the nature reserve. There's a car park, toilets and a visitor centre here and you purchase a day ticket for £4 per adult. The reserve is open all year, and from April to October, there are boat tours available - booking is essential.
There are a number of different pathways to follow, crisscrossing the reserve. To either side of the paths are reed beds. The reeds of Norfolk have been used to make thatched roofs in the area for centuries. Reeds also provide breeding and feeding grounds for swans, ducks and bitterns.
In amongst the reeds are 2 hides and a watching tower. Each provides a different view of the water and marshes. Nature lovers, bird watchers and wildlife photographers quietly use the hides all year around. Inside are information boards about the birds and animals you can hopefully see such as marsh harriers, cranes, barn owls, kestrels and Chinese water deer.
One of the thatched hides at Hickling nature reserve
The hides are all quite large and will accommodate 10 to 12 people at a time. They provide some cover from the weather and a seat. You can spot birds without binoculars but it is a great idea to take a pair with you if you can.
It is easy to spend a couple of hours at the reserve, but the walk is not that long in length. Add a stroll around the edge of the open Broad if you want to cover some ground - it stretches beyond the confines of the nature reserve.
For anyone who enjoys getting outside, no matter what the weather brings, then this is a great place to visit. There is deep water all around, so children must be kept close by. This area is marshland, so appropriate footwear is essential. Although there are pathways through the reserve, they are muddy and wet. Dogs are not permitted inside the nature reserve, but they can be walked along the footpath from the village.