Friday, 28 February 2014

Morston Bridge update & Northern Lights make an appearance

Morston Temporary Bridge Update

The installation of the temporary bridge structure will start next week with a meeting on the 4th with the contractors Dunella, Rise Scaffolding and ourselves to agree the specific location of the scaffold structure and confirm the access arrangements. This will be followed by the ranger team installing fencing and netting as part of our environmental impact mitigation. On the 6th sleepers and materials will be moved into position for Dunella to lay the foundations for the bridge and the scaffold structure will be installed w/c 10th March and open for public access on the 14th March once it has been signed off and handed over to us.

Aurora over the Norfolk Coast

Yesterday some lucky folk got to see the Northern lights over the coast, here are a couple of pics, firstly over Brancaster taken by one of our learning officers Alex Green who got her pic on Sky news and below by local photographer Brian Egan with the lights looking towards Blakeney Freshes from Cley windmill!



Tuesday, 18 February 2014

National Nest Box Week

This week is National Nest Box Week. Organised by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the idea is to encourage people to put up nest boxes in their local area to help increase the number of suitable nesting spaces for birds.

To get involved, myself and Ajay visited Langham Village School, where we gave a group of children from class 3 the chance to build their own nest box and put them up in the school grounds.

We started with a quick walk around the school field, to see what birds we could find. The results….. 1 robin! However blue tits and blackbirds were also heard. Back in the resource room, we explained why we put nest boxes up for birds, the different types of boxes and the species of bird that uses them.

Each pupil was handed a stack of wood which was already cut to size, a handful of screws and a screwdriver. They then got to work constructing their boxes.

Once complete, the children personalised their new nest boxes. Some simply wrote their names on them. Others decided to give their boxes names like ‘Hotel a la wing wing’.

We then found suitable places around the school field to place the nest boxes. The children will now be able to keep an eye on the boxes during the next few months to see if they attract some new residents.

- George (Ranger)

Friday, 14 February 2014

Norfolk Coast update

Blakeney Freshes – Yesterday saw the EA drop-in session at Blakeney where people had the opportunity to give their views about the impact of the tidal surge and the future of the area. There was an amazing turn out with lots of interested people, and a range of views. BBC Panorama were filming and John as well as other representatives of the local community were interviewed and it is being aired on Monday night.
Over the last week a feeding Kingfisher and Little egret and a Water Rail have been captured on ‘Freshes cam’. Also, salinity levels continue to slowly drop.
The coastal path around Blakeney Freshes is currently closed due to the breaches in the bank.

Today saw a Blakeney Point litter pick now the seals have dispersed. The lifeboat house has its new ramp and repairs are going well. For visitors during half term week, there is access to Blakeney Point as usual, but the Lifeboat House visitor centre and toilets remain closed to the end of March for the repair work.

It has been a busy week for Morston bridges activity. Earlier this week we met with stakeholders to explain the project and also to update about a temporary structure. This project is now at the point where Natural England have fully consented the works and we are just waiting on the Marine Management Organisation. The bridges will take 12 weeks to complete from fully appointing the contractors. A temporary scaffold structure near the remaining piles will be in place mid-March.

Heading west at Burnham watermill there are planned works to the brickwork of the mill.

At Brancaster the toilet repairs are going well and the electrics, pump and sewerage system are working. Next week will see new external doors and repairs inside. The works are on track to be completed by Easter.

Visitors to Branodunum will have an even better view of the coast as the last two remaining willows were pollarded thanks to the help of the Felbrigg team.

Some of you may be aware Brancaster Ativity Centre was badly affected, however three months on progress is going well. The drying equipment has now gone and schools will be hosted in March through to June in partnership with Deepdale Backpackers.

We are about to start work with UEA researchers from Brancaster to Salthouse to help us understand the impact of the tidal surge to e.g. soils, dunes, impact on flora and fauna.

Victoria Egan,
Countryside Manager

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

De-silting helps Blakeney Freshes & there's positive signs for wildlife

Today has seen the start to the de-silting of the ditch that feeds freshwater from the River Glaven into the Blakeney Freshes system.  We are really pleased that this work which is being undertaken by the Environment Agency is taking place as we consider it a key short-term measure to aid the flushing process to reduce salinity levels.

Recently we shared some exciting footage of a kingfisher feeding on the Freshes which is a great sign of the resilience of nature. Today we can bring you a water rail. This is particularly exciting as the ranger team have found 15 dead ones between Stiffkey and Cley that were victims of the tidal surge.

Tomorrow is the public drop-in session at Blakeney where you can feed in your thoughts to the Environment Agency. John Sizer, General Manager, and myself will be on hand so please do let us know your thoughts.  More details about the event are at:

Victoria Egan, Countryside Manager

Monday, 10 February 2014

Morston Bridge Update 10 February

Since the tidal surge of 5 December we have been considering a number of different options for a temporary structure to span the creek where the wooden bridge was lost. These have ranged from floating pontoons to gangways to scaffold structures.

Last week we reported that insurance would not cover a temporary or permanent structure. Since we found this out we have been trying to find funding for this temporary structure within National Trust budgets and we are now in a position to send the letter of intent for the contract.

We will be contracting Kings Lynn-based Rise Scaffold to install a structure that will be 8 metres up the side creek from the piles that are remaining and we are planning on the temporary bridge to be installed by mid-March.

Tomorrow we will be meeting members of the bridge stakeholder steering group, people with a commercial interest or representatives of user-groups that have an interest in the access or working area associated with the replacement of the two large bridges to go through the detail of the methodology. Dunella, the Norwich-based contractors, will also be on-hand to answer logistical and technical queries.

A further update will follow shortly.