Bird Watching, Birding or Twitching in Suffolk
Birding Suffolk Style
We have an abundance of places where you can go bird watching in Suffolk this partly down to the diverse countryside and seascape – also we benefit from beautiful coastal walks where you may chance upon an Avocet or Marsh Harrier.
For details on all field guides for the county, on all aspects of wildlife contact the Suffolk Naturalists’ Society. Sensible parking and keeping to footpaths keeps the continued relationship between birders and landowners in the county at a good level. As mentioned there are many sites where rare breeding birds nest. All those species in East Anglia, have a fully wardened site where those birds can be viewed without disturbance. Contact the main organisations for dates of events where you can really benefit from the diversity of the reserves.
Inland you will find the Suffolk Wild Life Trust the RSPB and Natural England sites, where they are geared up for the bird spotter with hides and platforms – so you can make the most of the opportunity.
Benacre Broad is located halfway between Lowestoft and Southwold. Formerly the site of peat diggings in the 1700’s, this is now a popular spot for Wheatears, Meadow Pipits and Linnets. Head inward to the rougher denes and the West Kessingland Levels, you may spot short eared Owls, Kestrel, Hen and Marsh Harriers, and wintering Geese. Nearby River Hundred by the Benacre sluice is a great place to view winter Duck and autumn waders.
A great place to see avocet, black tailed godwit, bittern, marsh harrier, and woodlark, the River Blyth flows from Southwold, Walberswick and Blythburgh. The Estuary is easily located off the A12 and is open year round, and features a public footpath and bird hide. The estuary also features rare aquatic plants such as frog-bit and great bladderwort, which thrive in the estuary’s dykes; nearby meadows are home to marsh orchid, bog bean, as well as many sedges and rushes.
Find out about Walberswick here.
Signposted off the A12, this site is located 2 miles south of Dunwich Village, just 8 miles from Aldeburgh and Southwold. It is part of the Heathland Conservation area, being one of the few remaining areas of ancient Sandlings heaths in East Anglia. It also features a number of great walks with amazing views, and the chance to spot Dartford warblers, woodlarks, rare insects and heathland plants – and hear Nightingales. Admission is free but there is a charge for car parking.
Dunwich has a fascinating history so find out more about this famous former City of Dunwich here
This is a small island in the River Ore accessible by boat from Orford Quay – and is important for avocets, spoonbills, brown hares and saltmarsh plants. This bird reserve also features 8 hides, where during the Spring and Autumn season a fantastic array of wading birds can be seen. Discounts for RSPB members and the admission charge also includes the cost of boat transport. See Havergate Island for more information
Lackford Wildfowl Reserve
Lackford Lakes is 121 hectares of wetland, woodland, scrub and sandy heath created from former gravel pits. A nature reserve with year round importance for wildlife, it is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its birds and dragonflies.
Lackford Lakes is a good place to see birds at any time of the year. Residents like kingfisher, water rail and pochard are joined by seasonal visitors. A winter visit is rewarded with flocks of wildfowl and a large gull roost. More species arrive in spring, including sedge warblers, nightingale and little ringed plover. In high summer look for hobby hunting over the lakes or buzzards soaring overhead.
Twelve years ago the land that is now Lakenheath Fen nature reserve was a farmers field with little to offer in the way of wildlife interest. Now it’s a wetland area filled with life: marsh harriers, hobbies, bearded tits and warblers. It is one of the few places in the UK where golden orioles breed. There is a flexible nature trail network, four viewpoints and a visitor centre.
Visit for details RSPB Lakenheath Fen.
For a guided bird watching experience Landguard has a Ranger. This reserve in the south of Suffolk is an excellent place to catch migrant birds, little tern, black redstart and Weatear. South of Felixstowe, Landguard is also home to the Landguard Conservation Trust, a volunteer organisation and ringing station which is makes it one of the best recorded sites in Britain. Admission is free.
Located off the B1125, and easily reachable from the A12, this famous RSPB reserve on the coast near Westleton is a fantastic reserve with a variety of habitats. The base for BBC 2014 Springwatch, offers woodlands, marshes, heath, and beach all within the same area, so birdwatchers can expect a huge variety of birds with over three hundred species in the area’s checklist. Be sure to look out for avocet, bearded tit, bittern, and marsh harrier. Minsmere is free to RSPB members, and has a large visitor centre, shop, and a cafe for that well earned cup of tea.
See RSPB Minsmere for more details.
Between Thorpeness and and Aldeburgh on the Coast Road, North Warren varies between grazing marshes, reedbeds, heathland and woodland. During the winter months it is home to thousands of wildfowl, and in the summer is a fantastic place for birdwatchers to observe breeding bitterns, marsh harriers, nightjars, woodlarks, and nightingales. Admission is free, and there are four miles of well-maintained public footpaths throughout the warren.
Visit North Warren.
Orford Ness – on your door step from Keep Cottage and the Wood Store
Orford Ness, a secret military testing site from the first World War, is now the home to the largest vegetated shingle spit in Europe. It contains a variety of habitats which act as breeding sites for migrant birds, making Orford Ness a great place for both birdwatching and military historians. It can only be accessed from Orford Quay. There is a charge for admission.
Primarily known for its amazing assortment of wildflowers, birdwatchers can get a glimpse of kingfisher, water rain, and barn owl, as well as bittern and the flighty bearded tit. With marsh, reedbed, and wet woodland next to heathland and beach, Sizewell Belts offers many types of terrain. Visiting birds like wigeon, snipe, and shoveler are attracted to the flooded marshes during the winter. The best time to visit is May through July. This site is maintained by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT).
More on the Suffolk Wildlife Trust.
This fantastic wetland reserve is created almost entirely from arable land alongside the river Orwell, and is a habitat managed primarily for birds and bird watching. The wet meadows are grazed by cattle, sheep, and wigeon and geese during the winter months. Wet conditions are maintained by a system of sluices, meaning perfect conditions for wintering wildfowl and breeding waders such as redshank, avocet, oystercatcher, and black-tailed godwit. The lagoon and islands provide a habitat for plover, duck, sandpiper, and greenshank. Trimley Marshes is located off the A45 near Felixstowe. Admission is free.
Walberswick features shingle beaches, inter-tidal mud flats, grazing and coastal marshes, heathland and woodland. It’s accessible from many points, and has scores of footpaths. Over 280 bird species have been recorded, including bittern, marsh harrier, and nightjar. Natural England manages the nature reserve and current conservation work includes clearing the heathland of scrub and bracken to maintain healthy populations of birds, reptiles, and insects that these areas support. The Walberswick Reserve is located off the B137 just south of Walberswick village. The site is open all rear round and admission is free.
More information on Walberswick.
At Westleton Heath, near Minsmere, birdwatchers can expect to find birds of open heath and light scrub including dartford warbler, stonechat and nightjar. In the woodland areas you’ll find nightingale and woodcock. Westleton Heath is 1k.m North of the village of Westleton.
This ancient woodland reserve is managed by traditional coppicing to benefit the myriad of wildlife. Perfect for early morning bird watching, there are many nightingale and a wide variety of animal, bird, and plant life. It’s located off the A1071.
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