Yesterday our office adventured into the great outdoors as volunteers at one of our favourite Norfolk fens.
As important as Mount Everest
Wheatfen Broad is one of the most important sites of its kind in Britain. David Bellamy once said “Wheatfen Broad is, in its way, as important as Mount Everest or the giant redwood forests of North America. It is probably the best bit of fenland we have because we know so much about it. That is purely because one man gave his life trying to understand it – Ted Ellis”.
For forty years Ted Ellis lived with his family at Wheatfen Broad, Surlingham in a remote cottage amongst 130 acres of woodland and fen. He was one of the great characters of East Anglia. Although he was a naturalist with a national reputation and his research work was meticulous and highly respected by the academic world, he was a man who had the ability to communicate his enthusiasm to everyone.
Such a man deserved to be remembered and the Ted Ellis Trust was founded to do just that – by preserving Wheatfen. This is a strange primitive area recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is one of the last tidal marshes of the Yare Valley. The Trust wants to preserve its rich and fragile ecology, but above all, it wants to keep this land and its wildlife accessible for the enjoyment and education of children, students and everyone interested in Nature. That is what Ted would have wanted too.
Wheatfen Broad is one of the few remaining areas of the once extensive Yare Valley swamp. It is now managed as a nature reserve and consists largely of open fen, reed beds, sallow carr and the small broads Wheatfen and Deep Waters. The house and adjacent land are still owned by the family who permit The Trust to extend the nature trails into Surlingham Wood and The Carr.
Before and after pictures above. We enjoyed a beautiful still day, helped to clear some willow scrub as part of the ongoing fen restoration work. We were lucky enough to see marsh harriers and buzzards gliding across the skies along with otter tracks. Stiff backs in the office today, was so great to be out in the fresh air, no pictures I’m afraid of three of our office members stuck in the mud causing much hilarity. Strongly recommend supporting your local nature reserves or local charities. For more information about Wheatfen visit http://www.wheatfen.org/tethtml/home.html