New wildlife guides to grow interest in the Brecks

No.:  2018-05
March 2018

The first two books in a new series of guides to the wildlife of the East Anglian Brecks have just been published, thanks to the efforts of local conservation charities. It is hoped that these affordable and informative books will introduce new audiences to the area’s rich wildlife.

The Brecks form a unique area of inland East Anglia, straddling the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. Recognised as one of the most important parts of the United Kingdom in terms of biodiversity, they encompass tracts of forest, heathland and arable farmland, threaded by river corridors. These diverse habitats support a range of fascinating wildlife.

Well established as a popular destination for birdwatchers, botanists and other naturalists, the area is home to some of Britain’s rarest and most sought-after species. The Brecks are also popular with visitors as a holiday destination or, increasingly, as a place to set up home. There is a need to engage more people with the wildlife of the Brecks, making it more accessible through materials that provide an affordable and informative introduction to the area’s wildlife.

Several local conservation organisations, including The Breckland Society (www.brecsoc.org.uk), British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) (www.bto.org), Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service (NBIS) (www.nbis.org.uk) Suffolk Naturalists’ Society (www.sns.org.uk) and the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists’ Society (www.nnns.org.uk), have come together to deliver a new series of Brecks Wildlife Guides, the first two of which have just been published.

Birds of the Brecks was authored by Su Gough, whose experience in teaching people how to identify birds has helped to deliver a highly accessible book. From familiar species like Sparrowhawk and Tawny Owl through to star species like Stone-curlew and Nightjar, the book covers all of the species you are likely to encounter in the area.

Flowers of the Brecks: Part One – Heath & Grassland was authored by Mike Crewe, a keen botanist with an expert knowledge of the region’s flora. Towards the front of the guide are the rare specialities of the area, after which those species found on Breckland’s dry heaths are covered, followed by more generalist species of other grassy places.

Both books include photographs of each species, as well as information on identification features, habits and status, as well as likely confusion species and guidance on when and where each species is most likely to be seen. Introductory sections give an overview of the Brecks in terms of landscapes and habitats, plus maps showing the most interesting sites to visit.

Mike Toms of the BTO, the publisher of the books, said "These new guides will help people engage with the wildlife found within the Brecks. We hope that this engagement will lead to increased interest in recording and monitoring the rich communities of plants and animals that occur in the area and, through this, support the evidence-based conservation and management decisions key to maintaining these communities in the future."

James Parry of The Breckland Society, said "We are delighted to be supporting this exciting new series of guides. The Brecks are rightly celebrated for the diversity of wildlife found here, and these books are an ideal way of learning more about what there is to see and enjoy."

Sam Neal, of the Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service, said "NBIS is very proud to be part of such an important partnership of conservation and naturalist organisations, producing such a high quality series of wildlife guides.  NBIS has put considerable effort in the last few years into helping to improve the wildlife identification (ID) skills in the Brecks. This work has helped us recognise how vital it is for beginners, visitors to the area and families learning together with their children, to have access to affordable easy-to-use ID guides.  Improving skills is important, but this cannot properly be put into practice without having a guide that helps you make that identification and tells you how to record that wildlife sighting properly - this is the gap that these Brecks guides fill.  As with all the work we do, our aim is always clear and simple, we want to facilitate more people recording more wildlife in the area they live, work or visit; so that we can build the most complete and up-to-date picture possible of the wildlife in the Brecks."

Notes to editors

1. Brecks Guide No. 1. BIRDS OF THE BRECKS. By Su Gough. Published by the British Trust for Ornithology on 6th March 2018. Softback. £8.95. 96 pages, 110 x 210 mm. ISBN 978–1–908581–88–4

2. Brecks Guide No. 2 FLOWERS OF THE BRECKS - PART ONE: HEATH & GRASSLAND. By Mike Crewe. Published by the British Trust for Ornithology on 6th March 2018. Softback. £8.95. 96 pages, 110 x 210 mm. ISBN 978–1–908581–87–7