Bittern’s Breakfast and Avocet’s Lunch

Ever wondered what Cley’s birds eat for brekkie and lunch ?

Find out by joining us at Cley Marshes on Thursday 17th September. On this full day workshop, we will be looking at what delicacies the bitterns, avocets and other waders, wildfowl and gulls dine on at Cley Marshes in restaurants such as saline pools, reedbed and mudflats, and how coastal ecology provides the menus.

After a morning classroom briefing on coastal ecology and birds, and some “here’s some we prepared earlier” tastings, we will be ‘grubbing’ about in the marshes in a “behind-the-scenes” practical session to look for delicacies on the menu for birds. We will test various sampling methods using nets, forks, spades, buckets and sieves.  Getting covered in mud optional – and sandwiches are available instead of eating the avocet’s lunch !

There will be an afternoon session to examine samples upclose in the lab for a gourmet –
session separating food into their main taxonomic groups and training in using keys to
identify as far as possible.

If you want to see the difference between a ragworm and a lugworm – and a goby and a blenny – and to know a bit more about what Cley’s bird eat, this is a course for you.

The workshop will be lead by Norfolk marine wildlife expert, Rob Spray, who is an enthusiastic and entertaining tutor, ably assisted by NWS invert expert Ben Christie.

STOP PRESS : Ben Moore will present a summary of his thesis on the changes to the marsh invert community due to the storm surge.

Workshop Tutors: Rob Spray, Ben Christie

Date and Time: Thursday 17th September 2015, 10:30 am – 4:00 pm

Location: Cley Nature Reserve

Cost: £75 plus V.A.T., or £45 plus V.A.T. for concessions, including lunch.

Booking: To book a place, contact Ben Christie at Norfolk Wildlife Services by emailing, or by telephoning 01603 625 540.

See also

Great crested newt mitigation workshop, 17 April 2015

A one-day mitigation workshop is being organised by the Association of Wildlife Trust Consultancies at Hampton Nature Reserve [ aka Orton Brickpits ], Peterborough on Friday 17 April. It will be hosted by Dr Silviu Petrovan of Froglife with an exclusive chance to gain access to restricted areas.

Great crested newt fence This great crested newt was found during pitfall trapping in 2014 This 1m x 1mx 2m hibernacula has a rubble/log base to provide crevices for overwintering newts

What the workshop includes

The day will run from from 10:00 to 4:00 and be an informal series of short talks and discussions on newt mitigation and licencing, followed by a tour of reserve.

For you of who don’t know it Hampton / Orton Brick Pits is one of the largest great crested newt colonies in Europe and also one of the few SACs designated for its newt populations.  It is connected under a main road by big tunnels, the “Newt Superhighway”, which Froglife have researched using infrared cameras and other automated equipment to look at efficacy of this type of mitigation.

Find out more about the somewhat shocking results at the event, as well as a reveal about reptile translocations success elsewhere, and get the chance to exchange ideas on newt mitigation schemes.

We would also hope to set up the mentoring scheme for people within the WT’s and AWTC seeking mentoring to allow them to apply independently to Natural England for newt European Protected Species Licences.

Getting a place and costs

Attendance is open to all Association of Wildlife Trust member organisations and Wildlife Trust staff.  Places are limited to 15, so it will be first come first served.

Transfers from nearby Peterborough Station can be arranged.

Cost will be £30 including lunch.

To book contact us at Norfolk Wildlife Services on 01603 625 540.

Badger training course – Stoke Holy Cross

Badger training course, Stoke Holy Cross 2014

Badger training course, Stoke Holy Cross 2014

We run a programme of specialist wildlife and ecology courses and seminars annually, open to all, using locally based trainers, and often using Norfolk Wildlife Trust nature reserves. We base the programmes on client requests for the year and have included botanical surveying at Hickling, a lunchtime talk on wildlife legislation from the police, and the ever popular water voles. We also provide equipment like binoculars and magnifying glasses.

The recent badger course at Stoke Holy Cross involved a formal classroom session in church hall, looking at ecology and theory, followed by a walk in nearby woods in  the afternoon. Participants were able to try out their survey techniques to find snuffle holes, scratching posts and main and subsidiary setts.  Whilst not able to see badgers themselves, the 9 participants gained a thorough grounding in badger biology.

Following this recent course learning about the ecology of badgers an attendee Natalie Gilbert commented:
“The course provided a very thorough grounding in the biology and ecology of badgers.  The fieldwork tips on distinguishing badger signs from other mammals and advice for badger watching were a highlight”.

For more details on our current courses follow this link : Current training courses

Water vole Ecology and Surveying Techniques training course – 27 August, Sculthorpe

On the 27 August 2014, Norfolk Wildlife Services will be running a training course on Water Vole Ecology and Surveying Techniques, at the Hawk and Owl Trust site at Sculthorpe Moor. This course provides an introduction to water voles, looking at their ecology, current population and distribution trends and the most recent legislation, with a practical outdoor session looking for water voles out in the wild.

The course will be led by Paul Gambling and has proved highly popular in the past, so book early to avoid disappointment.

“Paul is a very good trainer, very knowledgeable and enthusiastic!”

“Information provided was exactly what was needed to go out and do surveys on own – the crib sheet in particular is very handy.”

Course details : Water Vole Ecology and Surveys
A session covering water vole ecology, field signs and survey techniques and relevant legislation
Course Tutor: Paul Gambling
Date and Time: Wednesday 27th August 2014, 10:00am – 4:00pm
Location: Sculthorpe Moor Community Nature Reserve, Fakenham
Cost: £75 plus V.A.T., or £45 plus V.A.T. for concessions.
Course Content:: The course will be held at an introductory level and is suitable for ecologists, planners, land managers/owners, or anyone with an interest in water voles

Morning Session: An introduction to water voles and their ecology: lifecycle, habitats, food, predators, the problems they face, reasons for population decline, interaction with their latest predator the American Mink, and current legislation.
Afternoon Session: Practical field training including: introduction to surveying techniques and recording forms, equipment, safe surveying, identifying water vole field signs, how and where to look for signs, avoiding identification mistakes, and identifying potential water vole habitat.

Equipment: For the practical bring stout footwear or wellies, gloves (to protect against nettles and brambles), a walking stick or similar (for support and for parting vegetation), a hand-lens (or watchmakers’ or other magnifying glass) if you have one, and outdoor clothing appropriate for the weather that day.
Hot drinks and biscuits will be provided, but please bring a packed lunch.

Booking:  To book a place, contact Abi Gray at Norfolk Wildlife Services by emailing abig [at], or by telephoning 01603 625 540.



Invasive Non-Native Species Workshop

NWS organised a training workshop, well attended by 17 NWT/NWS staff and volunteers, at Bewick House in Norwich.  The workshop was led by Mike Sutton-Croft and Ed Stocker from Norfolk Non-native Species Initiative, who gave an informative talk on the risks and impacts associated with these species, as well as how to control them.  The Initiative, launched in 2008, monitors the spread of non-native species in the county and develops action plans for those priority species of most urgent concern.

Although not all non-native species could be covered, the morning focused on key species like Himalayan balsam, Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed, floating pennywort, mink and signal crayfish.  We looked at species identification, how they colonise and management options for their removal.  Case studies included the complete eradication of floating pennywort on the Waveney and the control of Himalyan balsam on the River Wensum.

Mike also talked about the European RINSE Project (= “Reducing the Impact of Non-Native Species in Europe”), a project area spanning parts of France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Britain, which aims to exchange experiences on how invasive non-native species are managed.   The project has developed a new phone app called “That’s Invasive!” to identify invasive species and register findings, helping to control their spread in East Anglia.

Tony Leech, an attendee at the workshop commented “It’s been a good morning – the practical approach was good and news that action could be effective is encouraging, especially for Himalyan balsam and giant hogweed.  I was reminded of the importance of putting in records for invasive non-natives in Norfolk and intend to do so!”

Details of further training courses over the summer are posted on our website  Upcoming events include Aquatic Plants on 23 July and Water Vole Ecology and Surveys on 27 August.