Thursday, 27 November 2014

My Cley

In the dirty-linen light of a down day a mistle thrush sings and, just at the point where autumn surrenders to winter, spring is promised in this songster's syrinx. Two dabchicks flank a mallard on the river, the three of them half-hidden by a muddle of branches over winter water. They were here, these grebes, for the start of my last blog as they are here for the start of this.

Yesterday was another dull day, on which the sky grew too heavy and dropped on us its rain. All day. I was at Cley, as so many times before, but this time I was reporting for Mustard on the construction of the Simon Aspinall Education Centre and the management of Pope's Marsh, between Salthouse and Cley, which was purchased by NWT last year.

A visit to Cley is a going home for me, to the place where one long-ago winter I learned to love wildlife. They were there yesterday the throaty brents, picking through winter barley on the hill; they were there the cackling pinks, grey in the grey light of the un-sky; they were there the teal's peep and the wigeon's whinny. And thanks to the unrelenting work of Adam and his team on the marsh, to the generosity of the many who donated to the appeal, to the vision and daring of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, and to the dream of a Norwich doctor and his friends in a North Norfolk pub in 1926, we can hope they will be there for years to come.

In 1926, however, Sydney Long realised another great idea that had long been simmering in his mind. This was that Norfolk should form a county trust – the first of its kind in the country – to acquire and manage nature reserves of its own. He began by buying in his own name the 400 acres of Cley Marshes, which lay to the east of Blakeney harbour, and were thus complementary to the National Trust’s Blakeney Point reserve. A week later, at a luncheon at the George Hotel at Cley, he put to a party of his friends the idea of a county naturalists trust. In a summary of his reasons, he was prophetic:

‘When one considers the changes in the face of the county that are being made or contemplated by Forestry Commissioners, Drainage Boards, speculative builders and the like, one is anxious to preserve for future generations areas of marsh, heath, woods and undrained fenland (of which there still remain a few acres in the county) with their natural wealth of flora and fauna. At the present time most of Broadland is in the hands of owners who can be relied upon not to interfere with the natural beauties of the district, but who can say what will happen in a hundred or even in ten years’ time?’

Eric Fowler
in Nature in Norfolk - a Heritage in Trust

No comments:

Post a Comment