Hickling Broad is one of our most famous and internationally important broads in Norfolk. It houses a significant proportion of the UK’s common crane population, along with resident marsh harriers, bitterns, pochards, water rails, Cetti’s warbler, and the infamous beared tit.
A large area of the estate has been managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, which is this year celebrating its 90th birthday. At the end of the second world war, the Mills family, who have owner the estate for over 200 years, decided to hand over the management to the NWT. Now more than 1,400 acres of the important ecosystem have been agreed for sale to the charity, which is now campaigning to raise £1m to buy the land.
It’s not just birds that enjoy living on the broad – Hickling is also home to the rare swallowtail butterfly and the Norfolk hawker dragonfly. You can also spot otters and barn owls, if you’re lucky, as well as the hilariously teddy-bear-like non-native Chinese water deer.
And it’s not just animals – the broad is the largest reedbed in the UK and contains three rare species of stonewort, milk-parsley and the holly-leaved naiad.
The current owner of this vast estate, Hallam Mills, said:
“The Hickling estate has been in my family for 200 years and during that time this lovely Broad has survived in fine style, despite the pressures of the modern world. The family is delighted that, out of many expressions of interest, the Broad is going to Norfolk Wildlife Trust, who in many ways were the Broad’s natural owner. The wildlife and conservation interest of the reserve will be very safe in their hands.”
You can donate to this appeal for the NWT to buy the Broad by texting LAND26 to 70070, including the figure you wish to donate. You can also visit the Just Giving page. At the time of writing, over £3,400 has been raised in just a few days but they need to get to £1m by March.