Whilst visitors will be flocking to RSPB Minsmere in Suffolk in a few months’ time to see the stars of BBC Springwatch for themselves, read on for details of some other top twitching locations across the county
Over 100 different species of bird were spotted on New Year’s Day alone as part of a local group’s annual event, and whether your preference is for wader, woodland, sea or songbirds, Suffolk has a wealth of locations where you can see all of these and more.
At just two hours drive-time from central London and the Midlands, Suffolk is easily accessible for weekend visits and short breaks. A wealth of accommodation offerings including a huge range of good quality self-catering properties make it the ideal location for a winter escape that won’t break any post-Christmas budgets. Read on for a selection of Visit Suffolk’s favourite places to make new feathered and furry friends.
Aside from Minsmere, the RSPB manages a number of other reserves in the area including Havergate Island, which also boasts a second nature reserve on what is the largest vegetated shingle spit in Europe and is just a short hop from favourite foodie town Orford with its English Heritage castle. Avocets and spoonbills are the most populous birds although many other coastal favourites can also be seen enjoying their habitat. Inland, RSPB Lakenheath Fen is one of the few places in the UK where golden orioles breed.
Not far from the gentrified coastal town of Southwold, Suffolk Wildlife Trust manages Benacre Broad, which offers a great opportunity to spot winter waders on the River Hundred. Continue a few miles down the coast along the A12 and see if you can spot East Anglian favourites including avocet, bittern and marsh harriers at the Suffolk Coast National Nature Reserve including the Blyth Estuary. Open all year round, the site has a public footpath and bird hide providing easy access and somewhere to sit quietly and wait for one of some 280 bird species who have been recorded at the site. The NNR also covers Dingle Marshes where eagle-eyed visitors might also spot otters, one of five species of deer and natterjack toads which have been reintroduced to the area.
The Suffolk Owl Sanctuary, twenty minutes from Ipswich, warmly welcomes coaching groups and offers special group rates. As well as providing critical care and convalescence for injured wild owls and other birds of prey, the sanctuary is home to more than 80 raptors. Fully wheelchair-friendly, the Sanctuary also has a Sensory Garden and gives visitors of all ages and abilities the opportunity to get up close with various species of owl, as well as a family group of meerkats, and a number of red squirrels. Evening visits are available from April to September. Tel; 08456 807 897.
For those who prefer furry friends to feathered ones, the Suffolk Punch Trust near Woodbridge welcomes pre-booked groups. This working stud farm is dedicated to this particular breed of horse as well as the human skills required to work with them. Aside from saying hello to the horses, visitors are invited to participate in activities including mane-braiding, harnessing and basic equine care. The farm also helps to preserve other local rare breeds including Large Black pigs, Red Poll cattle, Suffolk sheep and Ixworth chickens. The centre also includes beautiful gardens and a number of walks which take walkers through a beautiful rural setting forming part of the Suffolk Heath and Coast AONB. Tel: 01394 411327.
Near Aldeburgh, Iken Cliffs not only offers a truly unique landscape which in itself is a visual feast, it also offers the opportunity to spot Common Seal, whilst at nearby Snape Warren, otter are frequently spotted playing in and around the waterways. A wide variety of birds inhabit this stretch of coastline, from avocet, curlew and teal to chiff-chaff, marsh harriers and several species of owl. After a brisk walk to the cliffs and back, Snape Maltings offers the perfect spot for refreshments with its collection of cafes and local food producers.
For more information about these and other attractions throughout the county, why not try our interactive planning tool at www.takemetosuffolk.com to create a personalised itinerary ahead of your visit?
For more information about Visit Suffolk please go to www.visitsuffolk.com