Saturday, 17 August 2019 00:00

Whitlingham Broad with Liam Smith from A Shot of Wildlife

Written by  Liam Smith
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Whitlingham Broad with Liam Smith from A Shot of Wildlife

Hi, I’m Liam Smith. I am a wildlife crazy zoologist who produces educational films about British wildlife for my YouTube channel, A Shot of Wildlife and I am delighted to launch my regular feature for All Things Norfolk to share my passion with you of wildlife in Norfolk, starting with Whitlingham Broad.

I started A Shot of Wildlife after speaking to 90 6-7 year olds whilst at a school hosting a talk about hedgehogs. I asked the children to tell me what is their favourite animal. None of them, not one child, named a british species. I followed that question by asking them if they had seen their favourite animal in real life. Less than a third said that they had and only 1 child, whose favourite animal was a lion, had seen it in the wild. This shocked me, it worried me and it made me realise that more needs to be done. More needs to be done to teach children (and adults) about the amazing animals and wildlife that is here, in our parks, in our gardens and in our countryside. And so, A Shot Of Wildlife was born. 

Whitlingham Broad is an old, water-filled gravel pit within 15 minutes’ walk of Norwich City Centre (if you have long legs like me) and is a brilliant place to see both rare and common species. There is plenty of space for parking, an outdoors water sports center and even a café. It is the perfect place to spend an afternoon and the perfect place for me to film and introduce some local wildlife species.

Whitlingham_broad.jpg

I filmed my “Wildlife of Whitlingham” video over 2 hours on a warm June morning. I had visited a few times in advance to try to figure out where would be best to film from and also to get the animals a little bit more used to me, lurking nearby with a giant camera. I arrived at the broad at 6am and had started to film by 10 past. I began filming near to the café where I think most people go to feed the ducks, there were lots of waterbirds there and I managed to get some footage of Greylag and Canada geese. Both of these species are quite common, Greylags are the ancestors of most domestic geese and Canada geese are introduced and have spread across the country.

canada_goose.jpg

Whitlingham is home to a large resident population of mute swans and as they are such a beautiful and well-known bird, these are the next species I included. In the summer months most adult swans have paired up and are raising young in the guarded territories. At Whitlingham this isn’t the case. Almost all of the swans here are not breeding, there is only one pair that are and they stay up the far end of the lake with their one remaining cygnet.

swan.jpg

In the past it was not frowned upon to keep exotic animals and let them run loose and breed freely. As a result of this there are many non-native species living wild in our countryside. One of these species is the Egyptian goose. They are a common sight around Norfolk and southern England and with global warming have spread northwards as far as Scotland. They are a noisy and sometimes aggressive bird but they are also very colourful and extremely good parents.  

Egyptian_goose_having_a_wash.jpg

With its crystal clear water and its proximity to the river, it is no surprise that Whitlingham is home to many different species of fish. In the past I have filmed underwater but as the broad is so big I didnt think it was worthwile trying to catch any of them on film from the bank. However, these fish attract otters and various bird species that feed upon them. Unfortunately I didn’t get any footage of otters, I didn’t see any infact but I did manage to get some good footage of great crested Grebes, Cormorants and some terrible footage of a heron. Great crested grebes are a small bird with a really colourful, flame orange crest. In the spring they run along the surface of the water with their crests splayed out trying to attract and impress potential mates.

Cormorant.jpg

I don’t want to mislead people into expecting to see lots of species when they visit a place like Whitlingham and as such, all of the species in this video were filmed in one morning. There are so many things to see at Whitlingham and much more wildlife than I feature in this video but I want to keep the videos short and can always return to film a sequel some time in the future. 

If you have made it this far and are interested in local wildlife, be sure to pop over to my YouTube channel www.youtube.com/ashotofwildlife and if you have an account, please subscribe to help the channel grow. For a direct link to my video of Whitlingham Broad please visit https://youtu.be/aqUukbQZu3U

Thank you for reading and if you have any questions or comment, either comment on YouTube or get in touch at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Greylag.jpg

Last modified on Friday, 30 August 2019 21:02

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