Plants, birds and animals you may spot
One of our aims for this area is to encourage a diverse range of plants, insects and animals. You will see many common species amongst the wildlife and you may see or hear much rarer ones, especially during the spring and autumn migrations.
Why do plants and animals go into decline?
What you can expect to see
As the seasons and weather change you will see different insects and animals.
We host nightjars most years. Nightjars arrive in spring, making their curious churring call at dusk. If you are very lucky you may see them flying around catching insects. Other birds you may see include woodpeckers, nuthatches and finches. Buzzards and sparrow hawks are often seen soaring above the high ground, especially over Incleborough Hill.
On the heaths you come across adders basking in the sun, do not attempt to handle them. Adders have poor eyesight and react to vibration, which they sense through their bodies and scent using their tongues. They will move off quickly if they sense your presence. If you are walking dogs, particularly on the heaths, take care. During the nesting season and on hot summer days we prefer that you keep dogs on leads to avoid disturbing ground nesting bird like the nightjars and basking adders. There are common lizards and slow worms that are always present but difficult to see.
The heaths and woodland are home to muntjac, roe and red deer.
Several kinds of bats can be seen around dusk feeding on the plentiful insects. These are mostly pipistrelles and brown long-eared bats but Natterers bats are also found and occasionally noctules and serotines may be seen flying high over the open areas.
You may be lucky enough to see badgers; however they normally stay in their underground setts during the day. Sometimes their presence is given away by finding small pits from which they may have dug insect grubs and roots.
Butterflies and moths
Our heaths are home to the barred chestnut moth (rare in Norfolk), humming-bird hawk moth, silver-washed fritillary and the day-flying broad-bordered bee hawk moth. Green hairstreak and grayling butterflies are found on the heaths. One of the most notable butterflies is the white admiral, which is actually black/dark brown with a white band. It glides along the forest rides in July, from trees to woodland floor. It is still spreading northwards and climate change is thought to be partly the cause of this. It will often be seen around honeysuckle where it lays its eggs, as its larvae feed on the plant.
Your dogs are welcome. Again we must emphasise, please keep them on leads when walking on the heathland between March and September to prevent disturbance to the many ground-nesting birds. Adders are regularly seen, particularly in warmer weather, so do keep your dog close by and do not try to touch the snakes because adder bites are poisonous.