The Broads are renowned for their biodiversity in fact the area is home to more than quarter of the rarest wildlife in the UK. Birds are in abundance and around 230 nationally important invertebrates (mini-beasts) can be found in the Broads including Britain’s largest butterfly, the Swallowtail, and the rare Norfolk hawker dragonfly.
Chinese Water Deer
Introduced from China in the nineteenth century, this diminutive deer stands at only 50-55cm high and has large rounded ears and a cute face. Males don’t have antlers but instead their canine teeth grow downwards to form two tusks that are used for fighting.
When: All year Where: Barton Broad, Martham Broad, Ranworth Broad, Upton Broad & Marshes
Agile, playful and surprisingly large reaching 95-30cm in length, otters have a distinctive white throat and can often be found in the quiet back waters of the Broads.
When: All Year Where: Barton Broad, Ranworth Broad
Generally dark brown, these squat furry rodents have blunt noses, inconspicuous ears and a hair covered tail. Favouring slow flowing water, water voles are often found in dykes and streams with soft earth banks.
When: Spring/Summer/Autumn Where: Hickling Broad, Martham Broad, Ranworth Broad, Thorpe Marshes, Upton Broad & Marshes
With their distinctive booming call the elusive bittern are more often heard than seen. Extremely well camouflaged they can usually be found in the reedbeds of the Broads.
When: All year Where: Barton Broad, Hickling Broad, Martham Broad
With its deceptively loud birdsong you would imagine the Cetti’s warbler would be easy to spot. Sadly this is not the case. These secretive birds tend hide in the dense reed beds of the Broads.
When: All year Where: Alderfen Broad, Cockshoot Broad, Hickling Broad, Ranworth Broad
These slender gull like birds have a long association with the Broads, easy to spot with their silver grey plumage, black cap, red beak and legs.
When: Spring/Summer Where: Barton Broad, Cockshoot Broad, Ranworth Broad, Hickling Broad
Great Crested Grebe
Easy to spot during the summer with their distinctive breeding plumage, great crested grebes sit low in the water with a long neck and sharp beak. They have chestnut cheeks, white eyes and a black crest.
When: All year Where: Barton Broad, Cockshoot Broad, Ranworth Broad
Notoriously difficult to spot, the Kingfisher’s bright blue colouring makes them one of the UK’s most striking birds. Listen out for their piercing call.
When: Spring/Summer/Autumn Where: Barton Broad, Cockshoot Broad, Ranworth Broad
Regularly seen flying low over the marshes this spectacular bird of prey is the largest of the harriers and males have distinctive black wing tips.
When: All year Where: Throughout the Broads
Unsurprisingly the reed warbler can be found in the reed beds of the Broads. Well camouflaged, it builds its basket shaped nest around the reed stems.
When: Summer Where: Throughout the Broads
This active yellow bird has a forked tail and a distinctive yellow stripe on its forked wings.
When: Winter Where: Alderfen Broad, Barton Broad, Cockshoot Broad, Ranworth Broad, Upton Broad & Marshes
Common Blue Damselfly
Only the male of the species is actually blue. His colour is distinguishable in its vividness compared to other blue damselfly species and he has a strong blob of blue towards the tip of his tail. The female is a far less impressive brown colour. They are often found flying low over the surface of the water.
When: Spring/Summer Where: Throughout the Broads
Norfolk Hawker Dragonfly
This endangered species has clear wings, green eyes and a distinctive yellow triangle shape on its body. The Norfolk Hawker thrives in the ditches of unspoilt grazing marshes.
When: Summer Where: Alderfen Broad, Barton Broad, Cockshoot Broad, Hickling Broad, Thorpe Marshes, Upton Broad & Marshes
These distinctive butterflies are exclusive to the Norfolk Broads and their 9cm wingspan make them the largest native British butterfly. Look out for their yellow and black wings and forked tail.
When: Summer Where: Alderfen Broad, Barton Broad, Cockshoot Broad, Hickling Broad, Martham Broad, Ranworth Broad, Upton Broad & Marshes
The Broads are one of only a few sites in the UK where this small yellow- green flower can be found.
When: Summer Where: Barton Broad, Upton Broad and Marshes
Easily recognised by its straggling pink flowers, ragged robin favours a wet environment and can often be found on marshes and fens around the Broads.
When: Spring/Summer Where: Barton Broad, Cockshoot Broad, Upton Broad & Marshes
Yellow Flag Iris
This striking plant has large yellow flowers, they tend to grow in reed beds on the edge of marshes.
When: Spring Where: Barton Broad, Hickling Broad
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Reserves
Norfolk Wildlife Trust manage some of Norfolk’s finest sites for watching wildlife, including Hickling Broad where visitors can hope to see magnificent marsh harriers, barn owls, secretive bitterns, the huge common cranes and of course Norfolk’s own iconic swallowtail butterflies.
Investors in Wildlife
As Investors in Wildlife Herbert Woods are proud to support Norfolk Wildlife Trust, helping vital conservation work on the Broadland nature reserves and many others all across the country.
Half Price membership for all Herbert Woods Guests
Support the invaluable work of Norfolk Wildlife Trust and visit unique Norfolk Nature Reserves for FREE when you join as a Norfolk Wildlife Trust member for as little as £15* for the first year.
You will receive a new member pack when you join, including a detailed 132 page reserve handbook ‘Where to see wildlife in Norfolk’ – a valuable companion to your Broads holiday.
Make the most of your visit to this unique National Park and support Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s work to preserve its wildlife.
Simply call 01603 625540, call in to a visitor centre or visit www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk and quote offer code HW50.
*Single membership £15/normally min.£30. Joint membership £20/normally min.£40. Family membership£22.50 normally min.£22.50.
Photos by Richard Osbourne
NWT Reserves on the Broads
The largest of the Broads, Hickling is a haven for wildlife, rated Top 5 for Birds and Top 3 for Butterflies. Spend a day walking the trails or enjoy a wildlife water trail boat tour. Postcode - NR12 0BW. Find out more about the Hickling Broad Reserve.
With excellent facilities, visitors to Ranworth Broad can easily connect with the site’s impressive flora and fauna. The floating Broads Wildlife Centre offers panoramic views across the water and is a fantastic place for children and adults to learn more about the wildlife of the Broads. Postcode - NR13 6HY. Find out more about the Ranworth Broad reserve.
Upton Broad & Marshes
This peaceful reserve is home to over 20 species of dragonfly and damselfly including the Norfolk hawker, four-spotted chaser, variable damselfly and red eyed damselfly. Butterflies are also in abundance with 22 species recorded including the swallowtail. Postcode - NR13 6EQ. Find out more about the Upton Broad & Marshes Reserve.
Tucked behind the larger NWT Ranworth Broad, Cockshoot Broad is a peaceful Broadland oasis full of butterflies, dragonflies, waterlilies and birds. Postcode - NR13 6HN. Find out more about the Cockshoot Broad Reserve.
In the heart of the Broads, Alderfen contains both tussock fen and carr woodland and is home to several rare plant species, invertebrates including butterflies and dragonflies and birds such as the Cetti’s warbler and Siskin. The Greater Tussock Sedge found here can reach over a metre in height. Postcode - NR12 8BP. Find out more about the Alderfen Broad Reserve.
The second largest Broad, Barton Broad is one of the few sites in the country where the fen orchid can be found. Postcode - NR12 8XP. Find out more about the Barton Broad Reserve.
Martham Broad is home to a wide range of wildlife and is one of the best places to spot the mammals which live on the Broads including otters, Chinese water deer and bats. Postcode - NR29 4EB. Find out more about the Martham Broad Reserve.
Close to Norwich, Thorpe Marshes is NWT’s only urban site. Despite its proximity to the city, the reserve is home to many dragonfly and butterfly species. The large expanse of open water means water birds such as pochard, cormorant, grey heron and tufted duck can often be found. Postcode - NR7 0QA. Find out more about the Thorpe Marshes Reserve.