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Tuesday 26 July 2022

Snettisham Coastal Park – The Charred Remains!

I've been pretty low in mood over the last few days due to my ongoing medical issues and not been out for any exercise at all, so this evening, I pushed myself to get out for a while. Snettisham Coastal Park was probably the last place I should have gone to, when I was feeling rubbish, but there we go.

The charred remains and utter devastation at Snettisham Coastal Park was far worse than I was expecting from the raging fires last Tuesday. The only positive thing was that the western end was saved – the area with the pines closest to the car park. To my delight I saw 2 Turtle Doves on the wires here.

The burnt scrub roughly starts at the end of the large open area where the Wheatears and Ring Ouzels are seen in Spring and Autumn. I followed the lower path from here. The vast areas of burnt scrub was dark and depressing. The stench of the burnt vegetation and ash filled your nostrils. The black remains of a rabbit lay amongst the shapes of black and ash. The scrub where I saw a Little Bunting once has gone. So much gone. Some of the tallest trees remain, but are charred black with either no leaves or badly scorched.

The fire had also spread over the outer seawall (next to the sea) and taken out all the Marram grass (dunes) and vegetation here for a long, long stretch. It was the worst fire destruction of habitat I have seen first hand. The burnt scrub goes beyond the dam towards Heacham, but stops just at the kissing gate, along the inner sea wall – so the area where the Great Reed Warblers were being watched earlier in the year is fine. How the fire brigade stopped it reaching Heacham, I will never know! OR how they stopped it spreading to the west end of the coastal park? It could have been so much worse.

The slope on the landward side of the inner sea wall, adjacent to the marshes is also burnt out. A juv. Spoonbill flew east over Ken Hill Marsh as I walked back along the inner sea wall. Even more sad was seeing Wood Pigeons perched on black scorched trees and Swans in the dyke next to the blackened reeds. There are always small positives – I saw 6 youngish Coots, so they obviously survived the trauma of these raging fires.

I know in time, it should recover, but it will takes years to get back to where it was, if it does at all? Another heatwave, a glass bottle magnified by the sun? We still have not had any decent fall of rain, there were a few drops in King's Lynn last night, but not enough to even cover the ground, never mind soften the concrete mud!

pictures taken on iphone to be added tomorrow

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