MKNHS Visit to How Hill, Norfolk – 24-27 May 2024

Above: MKNHS members in the field, How Hill (Photo © Paul Manchester) 

Twelve members made their way to this delightful bit of Norfolk. The society has been to How Hill in the past and was Paul’s 5th visit, having also been with the Wildlife Sound Recording Society. All rooms are now ensuite – and the food was excellent, with no problem catering for vegetarians and gluten free.

How Hill is ‘The Environmental Study Centre for the Broads’ with accommodation, large formal gardens, woodland, a secret garden, reed beds and a boat to explore the river Ant, the reeds and a nearby broad. It is a special place, being an Arts and Crafts house designed and built by an architect for his family in the early 1900s.  It has extensive formal gardens and access on foot and by boat to wetlands and waters managed by the Broads Authority.  The Ordnance Survey map shows the Broads area outlined like a leaf in the surrounding landscape, following the waterways as boundaries, unlike most conservation areas.

The weekend may well be remembered for the rain nearly all day on the Saturday, which did not dampen enthusiasm in the slightest. Members made the most of the opportunities to appreciate the local habitat and observe the wildlife. We used the centre’s Robinson moth trap each night and had a respectable catch, considering the weather. Evenings were spent sociably, enjoying the wonderful view from the conservatory window of How Hill, or walking in the grounds or in the vicinity.

Barn Owl (photo © Julian Lambley)

On Saturday morning we took the boat along the river to Barton Broad. We enjoyed the trip, despite the almost constant rain. The weather was a bit better for the rest of our time there and we explored the surrounding nature reserve in small groups. A first for Paul was hearing a Bittern booming. Some claimed to be able to hear it indoors, but Paul’s hearing aids are not that good!


Swallowtail (Photo©Paul Lund)

After breakfast on the bank holiday Monday some of us some of us stopped to walk and observe at Lakenheath Fen, including a bittern in flight and a stonechat, the first Alison had knowingly seen, while others went to Hickling Broad where they saw Swallowtail butterflies and Marsh harriers, before heading home.

The group were very grateful to the staff at How Hill who saw that we were made comfortable, and to Paul for all the work he put in organising and enabling the weekend to happen. The general consensus was that another weekend in the same place would be well attended.

A list of the 26 moth species trapped during the weekend can be found here

Paul Lund and Alison Peace
June 2024