Breaking New Ground

Reconnecting People with The Brecks

Photo: Chris Knights

Photo: Chris Knights

Unlocking the secret lives of some of the most iconic birds in the Brecks.

This year some of the most elusive birds found in the Brecks have been caught on camera through a unique Breaking New Ground Landscape Partnership project; Wings over the Brecks.


The project, run in partnership with the Forestry Commission, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, RSPB and the BTO has captured the daily lives of nesting stone-curlews, goshawk and nightjar; three of the rarest and elusive birds found here.


‘This year has been the busiest year yet with lots of different species caught on camera, the project has been able to allow everyone to see these stunning birds and to learn more about the Forest and the outstanding wildlife found in the Brecks. The events programme and the fantastic team of volunteers helping to run it has meant that local people and visitors have been given the opportunity to explore the Brecks themselves and connect with the wildlife and heritage on their doorstep.’ Sammy Fraser, RSPB Brecks Community Engagement Officer.


On the heaths of the Brecks cameras were set up to capture footage of arguably one of the most iconic species in the Brecks, the stone-curlew. At Norfolk Wildlife Trusts Weeting Heath the nest camera or ‘sock cam’ was set up on the 26th April and streamed the first ever live on the nest footage of breeding stone-curlew to Weeting Heath’s visitor centre. From incubating and protecting the eggs to the hatching of the two chicks the camera was able to capture the growing chicks and the antics of the other heathland wildlife. The parents successfully raised the two young who fledged on the 25th June.


In Thetford Forest, one of the largest lowland pine forests in the UK, the project team set out to find the nest of two birds famous for their elusive behaviour; the goshawk and nightjar. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of local volunteers, the Forestry Commission and the BTO the nests of these birds were located. Even more work was then needed to set up the camera and ensure it could be streamed live to High Lodge’s Cafe, with 4.5km of fibre optic cable feeding the footage back to High Lodge.


The camera on the female goshawk chick, dubbed ‘Boudica’ by local people on social media, streamed stunning live footage of the rapidly growing young chick and the adult birds, something rarely seen even by experienced wildlife watchers. The camera captured the gruesome feeding of the chick, its transition from downy to adult feathers and her build up to fledging and more; proving popular with visitors to High Lodge. You may be very lucky to catch a glimpse of her hurtling through the trees in search of her next meal when you visit the Forest, but you can also see her by watching the recorded footage in the Cafe at High Lodge.

Live footage of the female nightjar on her nest provided a fascinating insight into the world of these nocturnal birds, often heard and made famous by their strange calls but rarely seen. The hatching of the two chicks, the female’s incredible camouflage and the successful fledging of the chicks was streamed to High Lodge; unlocking the door to the life of a very secretive bird.


‘Wings over the Brecks hasn’t all been about footage this year, the project team have also been busy providing local people with the opportunity to explore the Forest and see some of the wildlife found in the Brecks through the projects event programme. From the busy project launch event in May, guided walks in the Forest, family activities at High Lodge and a bat walk to come in October it’s been a fantastic year for inspiring local people about the wildlife and heritage on their doorstep’. Sammy Fraser, RSPB Brecks Community Engagement Officer.


The project’s success this year would not have been possible without the support and enthusiasm of local people who have helped the project through volunteering. The volunteers have clocked up well over 300 hours through helping at events, showcasing the footage and helping find the nests and setting up the cameras. The project is still looking for local volunteers to join the project team, with opportunities to get involved in all aspects of the project, for anyone interested please check out


The project will be running free family events during October half-term for you to get involved in including project stands on the 27 and 29 of October and a bat walk at High Lodge with Suffolk Bat Group on the 30 October. To find out more contact 01842 753732 or .