Author: Rachael Murray, Communications Officer, Eastern England Regional Office (EERO)

Recently I was lucky enough to visit the RSPB’s Berney Marshes nature reserve, found tucked away off the beaten track on the edge of Halvergate Marshes in the Norfolk Broads.

My presence there was instigated by a welcome visit from a BBC Countryfile film crew, who were keen to document some of the great work we are doing in partnership with local landowners to create a home for wildlife on the marshes.

As one of the UK's largest expanses of wet grassland, at this time of year it offers an unrivalled wildlife spectacle. Imagine the sight of tens of thousands of wintering ducks feeding and roosting, geese and swans flying in formation across the watery landscape and waders moving in unison through the air like shoals of flying fish. As spring arrives, the air is filled with the atmospheric calls of lapwings and redshanks.

Berney Marshes RSPB Reserve, view across Breydon Water showing wildfowl and windpump.  Credit: RSPB

I don’t often get to enjoy the fruits of our labours, so what a treat it was to enjoy a quick post filming safari around the marshes with Mark, our site manager.  Hidden, just a mile or two from the A47, I was treated to a wild world of Chinese water deer, shimmering flocks of golden plover and ebony and ivory clouds of lapwing dispersing abruptly at the sight of marsh harriers soaring close by.

For all the majestic beauty of marsh harriers, I have always had a soft spot for lapwings. With their sweetly tufted heads and an iridescent rainbow shimmer dancing off dark green wings, seeing so many of them together in one place was the highlight of my day. 

The sad fact is that although lapwing are still a common winter sight across the UK countryside, this is often due to an influx of continental birds.  In many places, economic pressures are changing farming practices to such an extent that, in the wider landscape, these lovely birds are now more commonly found breeding on nature reserves.

In places where farmers and landowners provide landscapes replete with wet grassland, wet flashes and foot drains, wading birds such as lapwing have the short vegetation they need for nesting and lovely squelchy places nearby full of insects in which to find their families a hearty meal.  

To help lapwing, and a host of other species, to flourish in the wider countryside, Mark is helping farmers and landowners across the Norfolk Broads to design and deliver suitable wetland features within successful farming practices, ensuring that both their farms and wildlife profit!

If you’d like to explore the unique wild landscape Mark is creating together with local landowners, you’ll have to be prepared to get a bit muddy! You can’t reach Berney Marshes by car, but if you are feeling intrepid, you can get their by foot, train or even boat – it’s worth the effort.  

If you are a farmer or landowner based in or around the Norfolk Broads, and would like to know more about the work that Mark is doing and how you can help to support lapwings and their fellow wetland species, please contact Mark,

For more information, visit

Berney Marshes and Breydon Water. Credit: Chris Gomersall (RSPB)

Berney Marshes and Breydon Water. Credit: Chris Gomersall (RSPB)

Berney Marshes and Breydon Water Experience

Why not try a unique wildlife safari with one of our wardens?  From the comfort of a 4×4 enjoy Berney Marshes and Breydon Water, the picturesque sights and sounds of this haunting landscape will certainly come alive.

All visits last around four hours and include light refreshments, and the income generated from your visit directly supports our work in the Broads.

Each visit is tailored to suit you and you can even set foot in areas not normally accessible to the public!

Prices range from £40-£75 per person, depending on the group size.

For more information Email: or Telephone:  01603 715191