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Suffolk Coast & Heaths

Suffolk Coast & Heaths


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We’re delighted to offer a birdwatching holiday on our own local patch! Let us show you the delights of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty!

The county of Suffolk, like the rest of East Anglia, is a gem for birding. Few have mastered its diversity. From the River Stour in the south, to the River Waveney and the Broads in the north and from The Brecks in the west to the coast in the east, the county provides something for everyone. The Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a stunning landscape, packed full of wildlife within 155 square miles of tranquil and unspoilt landscape, including wildlife-rich estuaries, ancient heaths, windswept shingle beaches and historic towns and villages. Birding in Suffolk is a joy as the landscape of the county is diverse, and so is the range of wildlife that inhabits it. Join us to explore half a dozen of the coast’s top sites at a relaxed pace for maximum enjoyment.

Our base for the break will be The Dunwich Ship – a friendly hotel on the Suffolk Heritage coast nestled between Southwold and Aldeburgh. The nearby heath is home to special species such as the Dartford Warbler, Nightjar, Woodlark, ant-lion, glow-worms, adders and much more. The Nightjar normally arrives in Suffolk in late April, but most typically in May, the first sign of their return is the eerie ‘churring’ song given by the male from a perch within its territory. We shall set aside at least one evening to hear this song at dusk. After checking into the hotel at lunchtime, we head south to North Warren RSPB near Aldeburgh for the afternoon. This is a wonderful reserve consisting of grazing marsh, lowland heath, reed bed and woodland, where we hope to encounter breeding Bittern, Marsh Harrier, Hobby, Nightjar, Woodlark, Nightingale and Dartford Warbler. Potential invertebrates we might spot include Hairy Dragonfly, Red-eyed Damselfly and Green Hairstreak.

On our second day, we head north to Carlton Marshes SWT on the edge of Lowestoft. This reserve consists of 120 acres of grazing marsh, peat pools and fen, is home to a wide range of wetland and Broadland birds including Reed, Sedge and Cetti’s Warblers, Bearded Reedling, Hobby and Marsh Harrier. Other notable flora and fauna we may see include Water Vole, dragonflies and the rare Water Soldier and Raft Spider. After a packed lunch, we will return south to Benacre Broad NNR near the impressive ruin of Covehithe church, where we will explore coastal woodland, saline lagoons, reed beds and heathland covering 393 hectares. Over a hundred breeding bird species use the reserve including Marsh Harrier, Bearded Reedling, Water Rail, wildfowl and in some years Bittern. Woodlark, Hobby and Wheatear breed on heathland areas and Little Tern fish off the coast. Other noteworthy species here include Lagoon Sand Shrimp, Starlet Sea Anemone and Grey Hair Grass.

Our third day will involve no driving as we explore Dingle Marshes on our doorstep – a rich tapestry of grazing marsh, reed bed, shingle beach, fresh and saline lagoons with forest and heath. Bittern, Marsh Harrier and Bearded Reedling breed in the reed bed. Also, grabbing our attention, will be Lapwing, Avocet, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Hobby and hopefully a plethora of passage waders. This site is internationally important for Starlet Sea Anemone – the rarest sea anemone in Britain. There is the chance of Otter and Water Vole too. This is a wonderful walk and we shall take our time.

Our penultimate day ends on a high note as we visit the important RSPB reserve at Minsmere. From 2014 to 2016, the BBC’s ‘Springwatch’ was filmed at the reserve amidst its venerated habitats, including coastal lagoons, ‘the scrape’, freshwater reed bed, grazing marsh, vegetated dunes, heathland, arable reversion and woodland. In May, it is possible to see over a hundred species in a single day. Marsh Harrier, Bearded Reedling, Bittern, Cetti’s and Dartford Warblers, Little Egret, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers are present all year. Breeding species include Hobby, Avocet, Lapwing, Redshank, Common, Sandwich and Little Terns, Mediterranean Gull, Sand Martin, warblers, Nightingale, Nightjar, Woodlark and Stone Curlew (sometimes visible). Passage waders include Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank and Ruff, whilst rarities such as Wryneck are regular.

Our last morning involves a short hop to the Hen Reedbed near Southwold, which consists of reed bed, grazing marsh, scrape and estuary. Key birds here include Marsh Harrier, Bittern, Bearded Reedling, Hobby, Lapwing, Snipe, Avocet, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, Reed and Sedge Warblers. Passage migrants such as Wood and Green Sandpipers are a possibility too. Otters and Water Voles are frequently seen, as are Four-spot Chaser and Hairy Dragonfly. There is also a Brown Argus colony close to the car park. After a packed lunch, the tour comes to an end at Dunwich.

We look forward to welcoming you to Suffolk for what promises to be a memorable tour!




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