Bird Watching in Suffolk
A visit to Suffolk is not complete without a trip to Minsmere, one of the RSPB’s flagship nature reserves. It has something to offer everyone, with its stunning views, huge skies, incredible variety of wildlife and great family facilities, as well as scrumptious locally-sourced food and a an excellent gift shop.
A choice of countryside walks takes you through some fabulous habitats. The scenery and colours change with every visit: golden reeds in winter, lush green growth in spring, purple heather on the adjacent heaths in summer, or the vibrant hues of autumn woods.
Minsmere is a brilliant place to spot wildlife too. The feeders outside the visitor centre are a hive of activity with flocks of tits and finches, the occasional woodpecker, and some incredibly tame pheasants and grey squirrels ensuring that event the youngest visitors can experience the beauty of the natural world. In summer, the bushes here are filled with fluttering butterflies and buzzing bumblebees.
Venture further afield and spend some time in the spacious wildlife watching hides, and you may spot some much more elusive wildlife: a secretive bittern, a graceful marsh harrier, a colourful kingfisher or even a slender otter. Of course much more of Minsmere’s wildlife is easier to spot, from ducks to dragonflies, long distance travellers like swallows to sedentary shingle flora.
Families might like to hire an explorer backpack for some self-guided discovery before heading to the Wild Zone. Here, everyone can have fun making dens, and the children can explore the child-sized tunnels or nest as they find out how some of Minsmere’s wildlife lives.
There are several other great RSPB nature reserves on the Suffolk coast that offer you some very different experiences. RSPB North Warren is a large area of wetland between the popular coastal town of Aldeburgh and the picturesque village of Thorpeness. In winter the marshes are the best place in Suffolk to watch large flocks of ducks and geese, while in summer the shingle beach is home to some of the UK’s rarest plants. The reedbed and wet woodland inland from Thorpeness Meare are home to bitterns, bearded tits, marsh harriers and hobbies, and the old railway line is a great place to look for butterflies. Public footpaths crisscross the reserve, which is open at all times.
A visit to RSPB Havergate Island is a truly unique experience. Suffolk’s only island is accessible only via the RSPB boat from Orford Quay. Once on the island you may spot the island’s famous brown hares, avocets or spoonbills, and you’re guaranteed a truly magical day out. Boats run only on the first Saturday of the month, and a few event weekends per year and must be booked in advance via Minsmere.
A newly created wetland at Hollesley Marshes, and the nearby Boyton Marshes offer visitors a quiet walk away from the crowds, while farther north, Dingle Marshes is a remote wetland where you can immerse yourself in nature.