Join all-round naturalist Chris Gibson for an autumnal exploration of a relatively unknown part of the southern Suffolk Sandlings, a world away from the northerly honeypots of Minsmere and Dunwich.
Insects are everywhere, with bees and wasps coming to the fore, often easy to watch around the last Bramble flowers. One of our largest flies, Tachina grossa, a great furry bumble of a fly is sometimes numerous, while Sand-wasps are always entertaining, provisioning their nests with paralysed caterpillar, and Wasp Spiders set about making inroads into the grasshopper populations. Small Coppers and Gatekeepers will be abundant, as indeed will Graylings, pretending hard to be lichen-covered sand. Bell heather may be starting to fade out as Ling stamps its purple haze on the landscape; Climbing Corydalis and Wood Sage are just two of the other heathland plants reaching their peak right now. For parking reasons, this trip is unlikely to include Shingle Street, but the intoxicating scent and gentle hum of late summer is enough to keep us more than occupied around the heaths.
These blogs detail more of the invertebrate and botanical interest one can find:
Following our initial trip in September 2020, throughout 2021 we will return to the same sites at different times to see different things!
09 FEBRUARY: The Blasted Heath and the Wild North Sea – winter birds and atmospheric landscapes. The weather may be cold or otherwise inclement, but with luck and a little sun, Crossbills will be active, maybe a Great Grey Shrike hunting the heaths, and seabirds out at sea. And plenty of fresh air…
14 APRIL: Spring Steals In – Woodlarks and Dartford Warblers singing at their best, spring flowers of the woods, and the first emerging insects and reptiles.
08 JUNE : Nightjar Time – an evening wander on the heaths for nightjars, moths and more, preceded by an afternoon on the heaths and shingle in their midsummer glory.
13 JULY : High Summer – heaths and shingle at their most flowery and insect-rich : Graylings and maybe Silver-studded Blues; dragonflies being fed upon by Hobbies; and Yellow Horned-poppy, Sea Kale, Sea Campion and Viper’s Bugloss especially attractive by the coast.
10 AUGUST : Heather at its Best – insects everywhere, with bees and wasps coming to the fore, often easy to watch around the last Bramble flowers.
12 OCTOBER: Autumn colours – the year has turned full circle: the leaves tinged with autumnal fire, (hopefully) fungi galore, the arrival of winter birds, and maybe late-season insects if the hard frosts of midwinter have not yet exerted their grip on the landscape.
All walks (except June) start at 0900 at Sutton Heath Southern Car Park (TM305475) off the B1083 and end by 1700.
Due to potential parking problems, the August trip is unlikely to include Shingle Street, but the heaths will have more than enough to fill the day!
The June walk will start at 1400 and run through to 2200, mosquito repellent advisable.
Please bring a packed lunch, drinks and suitable footwear and clothing. Binoculars, telescopes, books and other equipment can no longer be shared, so please bring any that you like to use yourself. We may be able to find a formal picnic spot in which we could all sit in a distanced way, but please be prepared to sit on the ground.
Although we will attempt to stick to the routes as advertised, unforeseen events or ground conditions may require us to amend without notice.