by John | Oct 22, 2007 |

Wildlife Walks: Havergate Island, Blaxhall Common and the Alde Mudflats


If you're a wildlife enthusiast and are keen to see some of the wonderful species that are resident in the area, there are several great places you can go! Look out for the iconic Avocet, nightjars, heath butterflies, and marsh harriers . . .

Havergate Island, Orford

How to get there:    

From Snape, take the B1069 towards Woodbridge and Orford, passing Snape Maltings on your left. At the next road junction, take the left fork to Sudbourne and Orford. Follow the road through Orford to the Quay.

Reached by boat from Orford Quay on the Ore estuary, Havergate Island is an RSPB reserve and Suffolk's only island. Just two miles long and half a mile across at its widest point, the island is sheltered from the North Sea by the long shingle spit of Orford Ness.

In 1947, eight avocets (look out for their spectacular black-and-white plumage long, blue-grey legs and delicate up-turned bills) were reared on Havergate Island. This was an historic event; no avocets had bred in Britain for about a hundred years. Avocet numbers have increased dramatically since then and they are now quite a common sight along the Suffolk coast.

Havergate Island is home to a good variety of wading birds. These include oystercatchers, redshanks and ringed plovers, golden plover, dunlin and greenshank as well as knot and turnstones. The trip would still be worthwhile even without the birds, as you get spectacular views inland of Orford's Castle and Church set amidst the gentle Suffolk countryside.

If you want take a trip to Havergate Island, advance booking is essential.

Contact the RSPB's Minsmere Nature Reserve on 01728 648281.

Blaxhall Common, Blaxhall

How to get there:      

Take the B1069 from Snape towards Tunstall. Pass Snape Maltings and take the right fork towards Blaxhall.

One of the features making the Suffolk Coast acquire such environmental importance is its lowland heath. Much depleted over the past century, there remain some fascinating areas still worth exploring.

Blaxhall Common is quite compact but this does little to dampen our interest or restore the calm we seek as part of our holiday experience. Here woodlark, nightjar, goldcrest, long-tailed tit and tree pipit can be found alongside such reptiles as the common lizard and adder and plants like heath milkwort, speedwell, heath bedstraw and sheep's sorrel.

In summer, there are small copper, common blue and small heath butterflies. In autumn, there are a wide variety of mushrooms; look out for the white fly agaric, a poisonous yet highly colourful mushroom with its red, plate-like top.

Alde Mudflats, Iken, Nr Snape

How to get there:    

You have two choices here. You can either start from Snape Maltings and follow the boardwalk from the car park to Iken, or you can drive to the Iken car park.
About a mile from Snape, you will reach a crossroad with a sign to Iken on your right. Follow the road to Iken for about a quarter of mile and you will see Iken Cliff car park on your left. From here you can walk down to the estuary and view the mud flats.

While the Alde estuary is most beautiful at high tide, you will see far more wildlife when the mudflats are more exposed (from mid to low tide). Dunlin, curlew, black-tailed godwit, oystercatcher, grey plover, wigeon, pintail and teal are but a sample of the overwintering birds.

In the summer there are redshank, avocet and oystercatcher and amongst the reedbeds the marsh harrier. The mudflats are a tranquil and beautiful spot.

There are plenty of lovely self-catered holiday lets near these wildlife hot spots to suit holidaymakers of all creeds. Try 1 Tudor Cottages in Blaxhall, Yarn Hill Barn or Boot Cottage in Iken, or any of these wonderful lets in Orford.

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