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Suffolk

Water Rail Rallus aquaticus ©Sue Tranter

Birding Suffolk

Suffolk is an East Anglian county of historic origin in England. It has borders with Norfolk to the north, Cambridgeshire to the west and Essex to the south. The North Sea lies to the east. The county town is Ipswich; other important towns include Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket and Felixstowe, one of the largest container ports in Europe. The county is low-lying with very few hills, and is largely arable land with the wetlands of the Broads in the north. The Suffolk Coast and Heaths are an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Like the rest of East Anglia, it is a gem for birding. From the Stour in the South, to the Waveney and Broads. From the Brecks in the West to the coast in the east, the county provides something for everyone.

The Breckland has Goshawk, Stone Curlew, Crossbills and other coniferous woodland and heath specialities. It is a unique habitat and Suffolk has more of it than Norfolk. The Fens provides wetland species. Wintering ducks and geese. Breeding birds such as Harriers and Golden Orioles.

(Please remember that the land where they breed is private and action has and will continue to be taken against any trespassing and disturbance.)

The levels and chalk grassland around Newmarket is good for wintering raptors and also Skylarks. The river valleys hold the odd gravel pit, where migrant passerines and wildfowl congregate.

In the East of the county are the river valleys, and many warblers amongst the reeds. The estuaries of Suffolk have their own variety. There is one main reservoir in the county, Alton Water, near Ipswich which continues to be a good birding spot. The coast however is a world of its own. Minsmere, Landguard, Orfordness all spring to mind. Bittern, Marsh Harrier, and Avocet all breed here.

Some top spots are referred to below, but there are many, many more and the details of the site, including what you might be able to see can be found on the relevant web pages for the organisations mentioned or listed in the reserves section. 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.

Top Sites

Alton Water

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Reservoir (Anglian Water)

Benacre Broad

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(English Nature) as well as the bordering areas of Covehithe and Kessingland

Blyth Estuary

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Watchable from various places

Dunwich Heath

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(National Trust)

King’s Forest

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(Forest Enterprise)

Lackford Wildfowl Reserve

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(Suffolk Wildlife Trust)

Landguard

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Bird Observatory and Nature Reserve (LBO & Suffolk Wildlife Trust)

Minsmere

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(RSPB)

North Warren

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(RSPB)

Sizewell Belts

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(RSPB/Suffolk Wildlife Trust)

Trimley Marshes

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Nature Reserve (Suffolk Wildlife Trust)

Walberswick

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(English Nature)

Westleton Heath

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(English Nature) Several star birds include tree pipit, overwintering great grey shrike, nightjar, woodlark and other lowland heath specialists…

Contributor

County Recorder

West - Colin Jakes

7 Maltward Avenue, Bury St Edmunds Suffolk IP33 3XN

01284 702215

colin@jakes.myzen.co.uk

South East - Scott Mayson

8 St Edmunds Close, Springfields, Woodbridge IP20 9PL

smsuffolkbirder@gmail.com

North East - Andrew Green

17 Cherrywood, Harleston, Norfolk IP20 9LP

07766 900063

waveney@yahoo.com

Useful Reading

Suffolk's Wildlife Coast: A Guide to the RSPB Nature Reserves in Suffolk

By Malcolm Key, John Grant & Jenny James | RSPB Woodbridge Local Group | 2012 | Paperback | 124 pages, colour photos, colour maps |

ISBN: 9780956316240

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Barley Bird: Notes on the Suffolk Nightingale

By Richard Mabey & Derrick Greaves | Full Circle Editions Ltd | 2010 | Hardback | 78 pages, Colour images |

ISBN: 9780956186911

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Birds of Suffolk

by Steve Piotrowski | Christopher Helm | 2003 Hardback | 360 pages, Col photos, b/w illus, distrib maps |

ISBN: 0713663545

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Where to Watch Birds in East Anglia

by Peter & Margaret Clarke | Christopher Helm | 2002 | Paperback | 270 pages, B/w illus, maps |

ISBN: 0713658649

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

Lowestoft Bird Club (The Lounge Lizard)

Website

The Lowestoft Bird Club is a very informal group of birdwatchers/birders from the Lowestoft area of north Suffolk. We currently get together once a month for an informal chat and a drink at 20:00 hours on the first Tuesday of each month (except December) in the bar of the Stanford Arms public house in Stanford Street in central Lowestoft. We used to publish our own occasional newsletter, the The Lounge Lizard, but this website has now replaced it.

RSPB Ipswich Local Group

Webpage

The group's aim is to support actively the work of the RSPB in the local community and to involve RSPB members and the wider public in the Society' conservation, public affairs, education, fundraising and other activities. We hold monthly indoor meetings from September through to April with speakers giving illustrated talks on birds, wildlife and conservation. So, if you would like to have fun and meet like minded people contact us and make a difference for birds and wildlife.

RSPB Lowestoft Local Group

Webpage

The group's aim is to support the RSPB by providing information about the RSPB and birds, and by fundraising for local reserves. We meet on the first Friday of each month for a talk about wildlife or conservation. Each month we have one or more field meetings either by coach or more locally by private transport to visit reserves and see birds. We have several social events each year and do practical conservation at Minsmere in the winter.

RSPB Woodbridge Local Group

Webpage

This is the website of the Woodbridge Local Group. RSPB local groups are a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people in your area while learning more about birds and wildlife.

Suffolk Naturalists Society

Website

Suffolk Birds contains papers and accounts of the status and occurrences of every species of bird recorded in Suffolk in that year, along with drawings and photographs…

Suffolk Ornithologist's Group

Website

We are the voice of Suffolk birdwatchers – an independent birding group and registered charity, founded in 1973.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Website

Suffolk Wildlife Trust is Suffolk’s nature charity – the only organisation dedicated wholly to safeguarding Suffolk’s wildlife and countryside.

Waveney Bird Club

Website

The friendly club for birdwatchers in Norfolk & Suffolk

Reserves

Abbreviations Key: See the appropriate Continent Page (or Country Page of those used on country sub-divisions)

Accessible Reserves

Webpage

Each of the following links lead to a BFA assessment of the reserve by BFA members and others, using the BFA form. ALL types of mobility problem are assumed so there are details of path surfaces, gradients and distances as well as benches and hide details.

FC Kings Forest

Information

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The Forest was named to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary. Fallow deer are common here. There is a mature Beech avenue on the roadside and parking just off the B1106. The chalky soil supports a prolific flower population including Wild Thyme, Bird's Foot Trefoil and numerous butterflies, such as Dingy Skipper and Brown Argus

LNR Landguard Nature Reserve

Information

Satellite View

Landguard is a designated Local Nature Reserve (LNR) due to its value to the local community and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of its high wildlife conservation value, such as its rare vegetated shingle habitat and botanical species. Its position means that over the years it has turned up a great many rarities!

NNR Cavenham Heath

Webpage

Satellite View

Much of Cavenham Heath NNR is typical Breck heathland with dry, acidic sandy soil supporting acid grass heath, heather heath with patches of bracken and sand sedge. In addition there are riverside meadows, woodland, wet woodland scrub and small areas of fen. As well as a good site for Breckland speciality birds such as Woodlark and Nightjar, it is known for it’s interesting wild plants and Adders can often be encountered, especially in Spring. Cavenham is also an excellent place to see post-breeding congregations of Stone-curlew. Occasionally in winter months birds like Hen Harrier and Great Grey Shrike may inhabit the area. The river is a good place to see Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail, while viewing the pits from the footpath may hold Pochard and Tufted Duck and passage waders like Little Ringed Plover, Green and Common Sandpipers. Black-necked Grebe has also occurred on the pit.

NNR Orford Ness

Webpage

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With such diverse habitats, Orford Ness attracts a wide variety of birds, mammals, moths and butterflies. From delicate Chinese water deer and big brown hares to barn owls and birds of prey including falcons and marsh harriers, there's lots of wildlife to discover on a visit to the Ness.

NNR Westleton heath

Webpage

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Birds of open heath and light scrub are well represented here and include tree pipit, dartford warbler, stonechat and nightjar. The woodlands support nightingale and woodcock.

NT Dunwich Heath

Webpage

Satellite View

Conveniently adjacent to Minsmere; tucked away on the Suffolk coast, Dunwich Heath offers you peace and quiet and a true sense of being at one with nature. A rare and precious habitat, the Heath is home to special species such as the Dartford warbler, nightjar, woodlark, ant-lion, adders and much more.

RSPB Havergate Island

Webpage

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This small island in the River Ore is famous for its breeding avocets and terns, which can usually be seen during spring and summer. In autumn and winter, the island provides a haven for large numbers of ducks and wading birds. Havergate is also a great place to see brown hares at close range. Access is by boat only and the boat trip to the island helps you really feel you're getting away from it all. Pre-booking is essential – please contact the RSPB Minsmere nature reserve on 01728 648281.

RSPB Lakenheath Fen

Webpage

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At Lakenheath Fen, the RSPB has converted an area of arable farmland into a large wetland, consisting mainly of reedbeds and grazing marshes. The new reedbeds have attracted hundreds of pairs of reed warblers and sedge warblers, as well as bearded tits and marsh harriers. Bitterns have been seen increasingly in all seasons of the year. In early summer, hobbies catch insects high over the marshes. Blackcaps, garden warblers and woodpeckers breed in the remnant popular woods on the reserve. Barn owls and kingfishers are regularly seen during the winter months. There is a new visitor centre where you can find out more about the reserve, its wildlife and history. An events programme is run throughout the year, and family explorer backpacks and trail guides are available.

RSPB Minsmere

Webpage

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There's so much to see and hear at Minsmere: splendid woodland, wetland and coastal scenery, rare birds breeding and calling in on their migrations, shy wildlife like otters, the booming call of bitterns in spring, beautiful bugs and colourful wild flowers in summer. Whenever you visit, you'll find plenty to enjoy. Choose an idyllic walk or head to the coastal lagoons to see and impressive variety of birds. Be sure to keep an eye on the reedbeds too. Maybe you'll catch a glimpse of a bittern or shy otter?

RSPB North Warren

Webpage

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This delightful reserve contains grazing marshes, reedbeds, heathland and woodland. Thousands of ducks, swans and geese use the marshes in winter, while spring brings breeding bitterns, marsh harriers, woodlarks and nightingales. Look out for the many species of butterflies and dragonflies.

SWT Lackford Lakes

Webpage

Satellite View

Lackford Lakes is a wildlife oasis with a landscape of lakes, reeds, meadow and woodland. There is wildlife in close-up all year round from iridescent kingfisher and dazzling dragonflies to elusive otter. In spring, listen to the sound of singing birds with the arrival of nightingales and warblers from Africa. The first bees and butterflies start to make appearances on bright spring days. Later in summer, the reserve is alive with damselflies and dragonflies. Swallows and martins sweep over the surface of the water feeding on small flies. The lakesides are busy with nesting great-crested grebe, tufted duck and water rail.

SWT Trimley Marshes

Webpage

Satellite View

Whether it is rafts of duck, colonies of avocet or the razor-like wings of a peregrine in stooping flight, the sheer number of birds that Trimley Marshes attracts is nothing short of spectacular.

Forums & Mailing Lists

Suffolk Birds

Facebook Page

Mailing group & news

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Birding Pal

Information

Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…

Suffolk Birding

https://suffolkbirding.co.uk/

Steve and Kathy Piotrowski run Suffolk Birding through their business SPEC, founded in 2006. Steve has lived and birdwatched in Suffolk for nearly all of his life and birding opportunities have taken him to some wonderful places around the world. Suffolk is one of the best UK counties for wildlife and we offer bird ID courses, bird surveys and countywide birdwatching and guided wildlife tours. We also offer wildlife digital photography workshops (mainly focused on Digital SLR photography) run by one of Britain’s top expert wildlife photographers. There are also opportunities for you to be led on exclusive wildlife holidays elsewhere in Europe.

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2014 [11 November] - David & Amanda Mason - Norfolk & Suffolk

Report

No birding year would be complete without a few days in East Anglia. Although the main migration period was over we knew there would still be some stragglers and we were anticipating finding lots of newly arrived winter visitors to the UK’s shores...

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Appletree Cottage B&B - Sibton Green, Nr Yoxford

Accommodation

Apple Tree Cottage is set in the heart of the Suffolk countryside. Minsmere and North Warren reserves are within easy reach…

Gamekeepers Cottage

Accommodation

Idyllic setting with 4 acres of woodland in 100 acre wood. Suffolk location near Beccles and Southwold. Nature reserves, sea and river nearby. Birdwatching… Wildlife at the cottage frequently includes deer, game birds, nightingale, nuthatch, various woodpeckers and many other bird species.

Georges House B&B

Accommodation

Are you planning to visit, tour or to make a business trip to the counties of Suffolk and Norfolk during 2001?If the answer is Yes we offer Bed and Breakfast Accommodation in our delightful 17th century cottage situated on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. We are within easy reach of the historic city of Norwich, the beautiful Norfolk Broads and the picturesque Suffolk heritage coastline.

Minsmere Holidays

Accommodation

Our 12-acre holiday property of private woodlands and pasture lies on the valley slopes of Minsmere River, at the heart of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Longacre is close to the RSPB Minsmere Reserve. A 20-min stroll takes you to the side entrance; a 45-min walk across the marshes leads to the sluice where Minsmere River enters the sea.

Suffolk Cottage Holidays

Accommodation

Many of the people who book these cottages are keen birders. Suffolk holiday cottages - comfortable, well equipped self-catering holiday accommodation in fantastic locations close to or on the coast, deep in rural Suffolk, UK

The Eels Foot Inn

Accommodation

The Eels Foot nestles in the hamlet of Eastbridge close to the heart of the Heritage Coast and 400 metres from the RSPB Minsmere Reserve…

The White Hart - Blythburgh

Accommodation

The White Hart Blythburgh is on the doorstep of some of East Anglia’s best birdwatching sites. The Blyth Estuary in classed as an internationally important wetland site by RAMSAR and is a Special Protection Area and SSSI. The local area is also an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Valley Farm B&B - 2 miles from Minsmere

Accommodation

Farmhouse with beamed double bedroom, private shower room and a smashing breakfast. Deep in the countryside with great walks through field, hedgerow and woodland. Liz and Charles Macdowell 01728 648217

White Lion - Aldeburgh

Accommodation

The beautifully appointed White Lion Hotel in Aldeburgh is ideally situated on the sea front along Suffolk`s acclaimed Heritage Coast, located at the end of a peninsula formed by the River Alde running parallel to the coast. Thorpeness Hotel - The Hotel offers traditional hospitality throughout the year. Guests are also welcome to enjoy the tennis courts and friendly bar at the nearby Country Club, or to hire a boat on the Meare for a spot of fishing, or a leisurely punt.

Observatories

Languard Bird Observatory

Observatory Website

Satellite View

The Landguard Bird Observatory (LBO) is an independent organisation run and administered by a registered charity, 'Landguard Conservation Trust'. It relies on its members, friends and volunteers to survive and function. Membership is open to anyone interested in the aims and objectives of the observatory. The bird observatory is housed in disused military buildings alongside the Local Nature Reserve at the southern end of the town of Felixstowe in Suffolk.

Blogs

James Wright - The Birdman of Gunton

BLOG

My name is James Wright - I'm a keen birdwatcher and general nature enthusiast from Lowestoft in Suffolk. This website details the latest important bird and conservation news from the Gunton which is my local patch. Gunton is right on the northern tip of the town of Lowestoft in Suffolk. It can be an excellent place for finding birds at migration time as well as other fauna all year round.

Jim - Jim's Birding Blog

BLOG

I'm Jim, and I teach in Beccles which is a nice change from Thetford. I have always been interested in wildlife, but have been birding seriously since uni, where I penned a dissertation on a history of man and nature at Minsmere RSPB reserve.

John Richardson - Old Man of Minsmere

BLOG

A self-confessed birding nut...

Keith Hudson - Suffolk Birdwatcher

BLOG

My blog about birdwatching in Suffolk. It details the many places I have been birding, in the more and the less famous places in my great county.

Peter Ransome - Lowestoft Birding

BLOG

I have a life- long interest in birds, even enquiring rather precociously which species of Swan was pictured on my coat hook at Primary school. It was a Mute Swan! I learnt bird ID/calls through years of local patch work. I have served on the Suffolk Birds rarities committee. Highlights of any birder's "career" is finding rarities & my finds include Red- eyed Vireo & Collared Pratincole in Lowestoft & other rarities...

Scott Mayson - Suffolk Birder

BLOG

My interest in birds started at a young age and unlike many of my friends it progressed through my teens and remains with me to this day. Initially my birding was restricted to Minsmere, not a bad place to learn the finer points of birding I think you will agree.

Other Links

Birdline East Anglia

Website

Birdline East Anglia What's about? Simply phone 09068 700245 Please report your bird sightings to phone/text 07941333970 or e birdnews@birdlineeastanglia.co.uk - Calls to 09068 700245 cost 60p/min from a BT landline other networks may vary…

Danny's Digiscoping

Website

New birder not taking it too seriously…

Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service

Website

The Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service is the One-Stop-Shop for biodiversity information in Suffolk. Operating as an independent and objective centre for biodiversity data we collate, manage and mobilise species and site information for the benefit of Suffolk’s wildlife as a whole.

Suffolk Birders Information Networked Services

Website

This concept was set up by two local birders from with in Suffolk, who have now provided this text - to - text information channel for many Suffolk birders using a mobile - to - mobile based platform, thanks to the support of it's members by the provision of accurate and up to date information as it happens from around the county…

Suffolk Owl Sanctuary

Website

Established as a registered charity in 2001, the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary at Stonham Aspal in Suffolk operates a comprehensive facility for the care & rehabilitation of owls from the region, and the promotion of owl conservation throughout the UK and beyond. …

The Lowestoft Naturalist

Website

Welcome to the web site covering the Natural History of North Suffolk & beyond…

Photographers & Artists

Artist - Roger Buxton

Gallery

Roger was born in Suffolk, a county renowned for its wildlife and abundance of birds. A campaigner and fund raiser for wildlife projects, Roger is currently assisting the Waveney Valley project, creating suitable habitats for owls and other birds of prey…

Photographer - Amanda Hayes

Gallery

Although I enjoy many areas of wildlife photography, I mostly concentrate on birds. I hope that you enjoy looking at the images on this website in the way that I have very much enjoyed taking them…

Photographer - Dany's Digiscoping

Website

This website is all about digiscoping & digiscopers! Use the Forum to discuss problems or to give advice. Use the links page to find equipment, or to find other birding resources across the web.Share your pictures for the gallery, blog about your experiences.

Photographer - Jon Evans

Gallery

Photographer - Richard Bedford

Gallery

I've been a birder since 1987 and held a camera for the first time 5 years ago. I use Canon gear and my previously healthy bank account is now rather tender…