Norfolk Glamping for Nature Lovers

There are many reasons to visit Norfolk.

For a start, there’s the historic city of Norwich, the county capital that boasts not one but two cathedrals. Norfolk has a thriving artistic community. And the region has a rich history of commerce, in areas such as textiles, salt, and boat building.

In this article, we celebrate the county’s wildlife.

The Broads National Park is Britain’s largest protected wetland. This vast network of waterways, which contains many sites of special scientific interest (SSSI), is home to some of the rarest plants and animals in the UK. The Broads National Park is maintained by The Broads Authority, which has responsibility for conservation, planning, and recreation.

Parts of the Norfolk coast are havens for seals, and there are few places in the UK as popular among bird enthusiasts.

 

Deer

Deer are ruminants of the family Cervidae, and there are currently six species of deer in the UK. In order to provide effective management of each species, and to ensure that landowners have the means to protect their crops, legislation caters for the diverse behaviour and conservation status of these six very different animals.

Deer shooting seasons vary according to the species and the sex. In deer, there’s a high level of sexual dimorphism, meaning that there are obvious physical differences between the male and female of each species. Inability to distinguish between the sexes is not accepted in a court of law as a defence for shooting deer out of season.

Deer are crepuscular animals, most active at twilight. However, they’re adaptable. In areas where there’s a lot of human disturbance, deer will be more active at night, and in times of food shortage, they’ll roam and graze during the day.

Chinese water deer

One deer species, in particular, is thriving in Norfolk. Although small colonies of Chinese water deer are to be seen in many parts of the UK, the population is highest in East Anglia, where the wet, marshy habitat is particularly suited to the deer’s feeding preferences. In its native East Asia, however, the species is classified as vulnerable.

The Chinese water deer, second smallest of the UK’s six species of deer, was introduced to Britain at the end of the 19th century, imported by private collectors. Today’s population is descended from escapees and deliberate releases from captivity, and numbers are currently increasing. This attractive little crepuscular animal can be seen around the Norfolk coastal area during the hours of twilight – between dawn and sunrise, and between sunset and dusk. Listen out for the deer’s wide range of calls, from the bark and wail of the buck, to the squeak and whistle of the doe, to the soft scream of the kid.

The Chinese water deer is one of two subspecies of the water deer (Hydropotes inermis); the other subspecies is the Korean water deer (Hydropotes inermis argyropus). The genus name, Hydropotes, derives from two ancient Greek words: húdōr (water) and potḗs (drinking) – referring to the deer’s preference for water. The species name, inermis, is Latin, meaning ‘unarmed’ – a reference to the deer’s lack of antlers.

Although the Chinese water deer buck doesn’t have antlers, he is armed. A pair of prominent tusks, loosely fixed in their sockets, can be manipulated by facial muscles. The buck uses these tusks in fights with other bucks during the rut. The doe also has a pair of tusks (or ‘fangs’), which are much smaller than those of the buck. Unsurprisingly, the Chinese water deer is also known by the nickname ‘vampire deer’.

Water deer are mainly solitary animals, coming together in December for the rut. Does are known to live in small, single-sex groups, but the bonds between individuals are weak. Bucks are very territorial, marking their territories with their faeces and urine, and with secretions from interdigital glands and preorbital glands.

Chinese water deer does will occasionally give birth to as many as seven kids in one litter, although the usual number is two to four. The young become sexually mature at around six months old, and this is when they leave their mother.

Reeve’s muntjac deer

The hunched back of the tiny muntjac deer is a familiar sight in Norfolk. This little deer, like most others, has a russet coat in summer, which turns grey in winter. When the muntjac is disturbed, it raises its wide, flat tail to display a white patch underneath.

The buck has small, straight antlers, and two black lines running from the base of his antlers to his nose. The doe has a dark brown patch on her forehead.

Reeve’s muntjac gets its name from the English naturalist, John Reeves (1774-1856), who worked for the British East India Company. As with Chinese water deer, the species was introduced to Britain from Asia at the end of the 19th century, and today’s UK population are descendants of escapees from captivity. Although muntjac deer are not a huge threat to commercial crops, their increasing numbers are associated with a rise in road traffic accidents.

Like all deer species in this country, muntjac are crepuscular animals, roaming around the countryside and suburban areas during twilight hours, feeding on fruits, flowers, nuts, and fungi. Muntjac don’t form herds. A doe is usually accompanied by her latest kid, but in the main, muntjac are solitary creatures.

Unlike all other species of deer in the UK, muntjac breed all year round. A doe becomes sexually mature in her first year of life, and from then on, she’ll be continuously producing one kid at a time, becoming pregnant immediately after giving birth. When competing for does, a buck will fight primarily with its tusks, rather than its antlers.

 

Grey seals

The UK is home to around half of the world’s grey seal population. At Horsey, the grey seal colony thrives under the protection of Friends of Horsey Seals, a registered charity run by volunteers. This lovely beach, in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), is one of the UK’s few accessible grey seal breeding sites.

For the grey seal – Halichoerus grypus (‘hooked-nose sea pig’) – winter is the busiest time of the year, when heavily pregnant cows haul out onto the beach to give birth. The new-born pups, weighing in at around 30 lbs and covered in a soft white fur, spend the first three weeks of their lives feeding on their mothers’ fatty milk, gaining approximately 4 lbs a day. Conversely, the cows eat nothing at all during this nursing period and can lose as much as a quarter of their body weight.

When the pups’ baby fur has been replaced by a new, water-resistant coat, they leave their mothers and move into the water; from now on, they must fend for themselves. For the adult seals, it’s mating time again. Delayed implantation means that the embryo doesn’t attach to the uterus for more than two months, and with the nine-month gestation period, pregnancy lasts for just over 11 months.

It will be three to five years before the young cows begin to breed, but when they do, they’ll give birth to one baby a year for up to twenty-five years! The bulls reach sexual maturity at about six years old, but when it comes to mating, none will be big or strong enough to get a look-in until he’s at least eight years old.

Sea lavender

Common sea lavender (Limonium vulgare) is one of 120 species of the genus Limonium (sea lavender, also known as marsh-rosemary). Despite its names, though, this pretty little plant is neither lavender nor rosemary, but a member of the Plumbaginaceae (leadwort) family. Unlike most species of sea lavender, L. vulgare thrives in Britain.

The Norfolk saltmarshes are a cornucopia of sea lavender. From July to October, when the plant is flowering, its purple bloom stains the unspoiled landscape. To the human eye, it’s a vision of loveliness; to the western honey bee (Apis mellifera), it’s a feast!

Due to the differing types of sugar in plant species, the flavour and texture of honey varies quite a lot according to pollen source. Norfolk sea lavender honey is a delicacy well known to Norfolk residents, but one that seldom finds its way out of the county.

In the middle of summer, beekeepers will move their hives to a location close to a saltmarsh, usually on private land, where they’re protected from theft and vandalism. The bees will travel a distance of up to three miles in their search for nectar.

Any visit to Norfolk should include a taste of sea lavender honey.

Red poppy

In the summer months, Norfolk’s fields and verges are bright with the red poppy (Papaver rhoes), also known as the common poppy or corn poppy. This scarlet gift to photographers plays a starring role in Norfolk’s tourist industry, its image featuring on all kinds of souvenirs. The red poppy is, of course, Norfolk’s county flower.

The moniker “Poppyland” was coined by the influential writer, Clement Scott (1841-1904), whose affection for Norfolk – Overstrand in particular – inspired much of his poetry, including his famous poem, The Garden of Sleep:

“Brief days of desire, and long dreams of delight,

They are mine when Poppy-Land cometh in sight.”

The red poppy thrives in disturbed soil, such as cultivated fields of crops. Seeds that have lain dormant for years will come to life when they’re touched by sunlight. As thousands of soldiers were killed in the fields of Flanders in the Great War, the disturbed soil of freshly dug trenches gave life to thousands of blood-red poppies.

Chalk reef

 Covering an area of 124 square miles, and recognised internationally for its environmental significance, Norfolk’s chalk reef is thought to be Europe’s largest, and has been officially designated as a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ). It stretches from Weybourne to Happisburgh, a distance of almost twenty miles.

The reef is home to many species of marine fauna that are rarely seen elsewhere in the UK, such as the inquisitive tompot blenny, a distinctive-looking stripy fish sporting a pair of tentacles on its head, who can’t resist having a look at passing divers! There’s also a large population of spider crab, an inventive little creature that dresses itself up in order to blend into the background. Its camouflage ranges from red or brown seaweed to pink and yellow living sponges.

The chalk reef has only recently been explored, although it was always known about, and scientists have made a very exciting discovery: a new species of sponge, purple in colour, which has yet to be named. The richness of this environment sheds new light on the plentiful and flavoursome Cromer crabs, which have been a major source of the local economy for hundreds of years. Whether the area’s status as a Marine Conservation Zone has an impact on this industry is yet to be seen.

Holkham National Nature Reserve

Covering approximately 15 square miles, Holkham National Nature Reserve comprises a variety of habitats, including pine woodland, grazing marsh, sand dunes, beach, the village of Holkham, the estate of Holkham Hall, and a salt marsh, which is densely carpeted from July to October by purple and pink sea lavender.

The sand dunes at Holkham are covered in marram grass, whose genus name, Ammophilia, comes from the Greek words ámmos (‘sand’) and philia (‘lover’). This wonderful plant, whose extensive root systems allow it to thrive under conditions of high winds and shifting sand, is known for its ability to bind loose sand, and, as a result, to begin and sustain the process of dune building. Marram grass plays a major role in the battle against coastal erosion.

The belt of pine trees was planted in the latter part of the 19th century by the owner of the Holkham Estate, Thomas Coke, 2nd Earl of Leicester, in an effort to help stabilise the dunes. There are three kinds of pine in this woodland: Corsican pine (Pinus nigra), also known as Austrian pine or black pine, a long-living species with high resistance to wind, drought, ice, and salt; maritime pine (Pinus pinaster), or cluster pine, with long, robust needles, orangey-red bark, and large cones that grow in high-up clusters; and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) , distinctive for its orange upper trunk.

Nightjar

One fascinating migrant bird that makes its home in the Winterton dunes during the summer is the Nightjar – a family that goes by the Latin name of Caprimulgus, meaning ‘goatsucker’. This moniker is due to the ancient folk tale that these birds suck the milk from goats! Nightjars are nocturnal birds with long wings and short legs, well camouflaged by soft grey-brown mottled plumage.

Another resident of the Winterton dunes is the little tern (Sternula albifrons). In the 19th century, this seabird was common to European shores, but decreased in numbers during the 20th century, due to human disturbance, pollution, and loss of habitat. However, the RSPB reports that the Winterton dunes are home to the largest colony of little terns in the UK.

Fulmar

Hunstanton beach, part of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is one of the best places in the UK for fossil hunting, and the striped cliffs are testament to three distinctive geological ages in the Cretaceous period, which ended approximately 66 million years ago. The lower portion of the cliffs, orangey-brown in colour, is carrstone, a sedimentary sandstone conglomerate. Topping this layer is a narrow red band called the Hunstanton Formation, specific to eastern England and taking its name from these very cliffs. The top portion of the cliff is white Ferriby chalk, formed later in the Cretaceous age.

Hunstanton’s spectacular cliffs are home to a thriving colony of fulmars. These gull-like birds (which are, in fact, petrels) breed on the cliffs, but outside of the breeding season much of their time is spent airborne over the open sea, feeding on fish, shrimp, and squid. Inevitably, they imbibe a lot of sea water, and for this reason they have a salt gland, situated above the nasal passage, which serves to desalinate their bodies.

Beautiful as they may appear, it is advisable to keep one’s distance from a fulmar, because, when feeling threatened, it will vomit a thick oily bile on you! This stomach oil, however, is also a rich food source for adults during long flights, and also for their chicks. The genus name, Fulmarus (an Old Norse word), derives from full (‘foul’) and már (‘gull’), in reference to the stench of their stomach oil.

Pink-footed goose

The pink-footed goose – Anser brachyrhynchus (“short-billed goose”) – is one of Norfolk’s best-known winter species.

Each autumn, pink-footed geese fly in from Iceland and Greenland, where they breed. You can’t miss them. When these birds fly overhead, in flocks of tens of thousands, their high-pitched honking noise can be deafening!

When it comes to feeding, the pink-footed goose is rather partial to sugar beet, potato, and oilseed rape, all of which are farmed extensively in Norfolk. Damage to crops is inevitable, but it’s not all bad news for farmers. The hungry pink-footed goose will eat up the remnants of harvested crops, helping to reduce the transmission of disease to the following year’s crops.

Look out – or rather, listen out – for Norfolk’s rowdiest resident!

Contact us

Exalted Mktg is an agency dedicated to leisure and tourism marketing in Norfolk. If you’d like to talk to us about growing your staycation business through targeted digital marketing, just give us a call on 07901 608912 or email info@exaltedmktg.co.uk. We’d love to hear from you.


Why Marketing is Food for your Business

Why Marketing is Food for Your Business

The most marvellous product or service, presented on the most stunning website, won’t make you any money if nobody knows it’s there.

Food for thought

For a business, marketing is nourishment. Marketing is a consistent supply of fuel, in times of hardship and in times of plenty. Marketing is to a business what food is to its workforce.

When a business has grown to a massive size, is marketing still necessary?

That’s like asking if Giant Haystacks and Red Rum still needed to eat after winning the European Heavyweight Wrestling Championship and third Grand National (respectively).

Commercial giants like Pepsi, Hoover, and Marks & Spencer enjoy ongoing success because they’re fuelled by marketing activity, which is essential to the survival of every business.

Balanced diet

Marketing is about nurturing your brand’s:

  • Visibility
  • Relationship with customers
  • Reputation

It’s about generating:

  • New customer relationships
  • Sales
  • Security for the future

Social media and email are great platforms for enhancing brand visibility and building strong relationships with customers. Informational blog posts and videos on your website help to position your brand as an industry authority, and regular fresh content will boost SEO.

Bitter pill

When business is good, and money is plentiful, it’s tempting to push marketing aside – to give it a rest until times get hard.

… Okay, so things are getting a bit tight. Customers have left you to shop elsewhere, and there’s no sight of new customers. Time to restart the marketing.

Except it doesn’t work like that. Your brand has been forgotten, and your relationship with the customer has died.

Marketing is a lot of things, but it’s not medicine.

Wining and dining

Engaging existing and potential customers involves a bit of gallantry. Give something away – for example, a list of handy top tips, an informational blog or video, or a special offer. Show customers they’re appreciated, by using loyalty cards (or an equivalent discount system) and after-sale emails.

Let them get to know you. Social media posts might include the occasional “Meet the Team” post, or updates on your move or refurbishment of premises. Throw in some case studies and testimonials, and maybe a few humorous anecdotes.

Keep in touch! (Out of sight, out of mind …)

Repeat custom is bread and butter to many businesses, so, nurturing your brand-customer relationships is of paramount importance. A regular email containing company news and special offers, with links to latest blogs, keeps you in mind. How about a fun quiz, with a prize to be won!

Dessert comes in the form of referrals. A referred customer gives you the benefit of the trust they have in the person who referred them. You grow your relationship with the new customer, who becomes a repeat customer, and who might well refer a friend. Happy customers lead to referrals.

Famine and feast

Never stop marketing. Your business may be doing very well at this moment, but when there’s a slump, it’s too late. Keep planting the seeds for future harvests.

Contact us

If you’d like to talk to us about our digital marketing service, give us a call on 07901 608912 or email info@exaltedmktg.co.uk. We’d love to hear from you.