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16 September 2014
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Wetlands - Norfolk Broads - How Hill

Birds and Butterflies

How Hill c/o Broads Authority

How Hill House, situated in the heart of Norfolk, has been described as a unique microcosm of the Broads with its range of nationally and internationally important wildlife.

Nationally important estate and nature reserve. Photo - Broads Authority.


The Norfolk Broads are unique in that they are England's only wetland in the National Park family.

In fact, the designation of How Hill as a National Nature Reserve (NNR) was presided over by our very own Chris Packham in May 2006.

How Hill House is surrounded by a 365 acre estate of open fen, wet and dry woodland, rush pasture, fen meadow and two areas of open waters, comprising nature trails, riverside paths and a woodland garden.

Most of the estate is included in the Broads Special Area of Conservation and is a protected site for birdlife, including Marsh Harriers, Kingfishers, Bearded Tits and even Herons found here all year round.

Butterfly magnet

Butterfly c/o Broads AuthorityAttracting over 25,000 visitors a year, How Hill is a popular spot for butterflies, including the rare Swallowtail which is only found in the Norfolk Broads.

It's the perfect habitat for Swallowtails, Britain's largest butterfly, as they lay their eggs on milk parsley so when the caterpillars hatch they have something to eat.

The Swallowtail gets its name from the shape of its hind-wings which look like a swallow's tail, and have a pair of eye-like patterns printed on them.

These features mimic the head and antennae of the butterfly, confusing any bird which tries to prey upon it and giving the Swallowtail a better chance of getting away.

Other good Norfolk reserves where you can spot the Swallowtails are Catfield Fen, Strumpshaw Fen and Wheatfen

Dragonfly dance

Norfolk HawkerAlso found at How Hill are Norfolk Hawker Dragonflies, which breed in only a handful of places and emerge for just a few weeks each summer.

Norfolk Hawkers have striking bright green eyes and a yellow triangle on their backs, making them easy to pick out.

Unlike butterflies, Dragonflies are ambush predators and feed on insect larvae, water-fleas, snails, tadpoles and even small fish.

They're often found in ditches and dykes where their food supply is plentiful and this is also where they like to breed.

Look for them darting over the water areas.

Also look a little deeper under the water, and a whole new underwater world emerges with creatures such as Water Scorpion and Cadis Fly.

Broads c/o Broads AuthorityPhoto credits

Images of the Broads and butterflies courtesy and copyright of the Broads Authority.

 

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