With flower-studded marshes, pools teeming with water life and the shimmer of dragonflies during summer, Carlton & Oulton Marshes is the Suffolk Broads at their best. A wildlife oasis on the edge of Lowestoft For sheer excitement and awe, birds of prey are hard to beat and marsh harrier, barn owl and hobby are all at home in the skies above Carlton & Oulton Marshes. But the underwater world of the dykes is where the real drama is played out, by plants like the insectivorous bladderwort, which traps and digests water fleas in bladder-like sacs under water.
Scan the dyke edges too, for a glimpse of Britain’s biggest spider, the fen raft spider which was released here in 2012 to bolster the precariously low UK population. In early summer there is a fabulous display of southern marsh orchid, marsh marigold and ragged-robin, together with the scarcer bogbean, bog pimpernel and marsh cinquefoill. The marshes are also ideal for wintering wildfowl and breeding waders with large numbers of wigeon, teal and snipe.
Carlton Marshes is 10 minutes from Oulton Broad on the A146, Beccles to Lowestoft road. The trails are open every day from dawn to dusk. The reserve is the perfect place to start a longer walk into the Broads.
The reserve provides valuable habitat for many species of birds with over 150 species recorded on site.
Breeding birds include barn owl, lapwing, redshank, reed, sedge, grasshopper and Cetti’s warblers, marsh tit, kingfisher, linnet, reed bunting, skylark, bearded tit and treecreeper.
Regular visitors include hobby, marsh harrier, hen harrier, snipe, garganey, shoveler, wigeon, teal, short eared owl, bittern, avocet, spotted redshank, green sandpiper, wood sandpiper, common sndpiper, woodcock and whimbrel.
For botanists, Carlton & Oulton Marshes is one of the best places in north Suffolk for the sheer variety of plants.
The dykes support important aquatic plants such as frogbit, water soldier and river water dropwort. The dykes are fringed with species rich edges with species such as tubular water dropwort and flowering rush.
The grazing marshes support an abundance of plant species such as marsh pea, yellow loosestrife, purple loosestrife, ragged robin, southern marsh orchid, marsh marigold, marsh valerian, bogbean, fen bedstraw, carnation sedge and tussock sedge.
The dykes support 17 species of dragonflies and damselflies including nationally rare Red data book dragonflies – Norfolk hawker and scarce chaser.
47 species of mollusc have been recorded including three Red data book species of freshwater snail – Anisus vorticulus, Segmentina nitida and Pisidium pseudosphaerium.
Reptiles & amphibians
Common lizard, slow worm, common frog, common newt and grass snake are present on site in good numbers.
Water vole, otter and water shrew have populations on site alongside harvest mouse that use the reedbed and river wall sections of the reserve.
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