DUNWICH FOREST IS situated within the Suffolk Coastal and Heathland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Owned by the Forestry Commission this substantial block of mixed woodland comprises important habitats for some of our declining summer migrants such as Turtle Dove, Cuckoo and Nightingale. With adjacent marshland on two sides and heathland to the south, there is rich potential for a large species tally throughout the walk. The typical range of resident species are present across the forest, including remnant populations of Marsh Tit, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Hawfinch, although all three are becoming more difficult to find. On the plus side Goshawk and Red Kite sightings are becoming regular, and there is always the chance of a passing migrant Honey Buzzard. In past years Golden Orioles have been reported singing from the canopy. Where the footpath butts Dingle Marshes, an open vista to the coastline affords ample opportunities for observing visible migration. The likes of hirundines, Swift and Yellow Wagtail, Greenshank and Whimbrel should be moving overhead, plus the likelihood of a grounded Wheatear or Whinchat. Parts of the forest are subject to a re-wilding project where Dartmoor ponies are being used to graze clearings, while several species of deer are also present. The location of this spring birding walk is almost guaranteed to deliver one or two surprises along the way. Woodland edge is a good area for observing feeding birds. Listen out for singing Cuckoo, Turtle Dove and Spotted Flycatcher. A good spot for Nightingale and Grasshopper Warbler, along with Sedge, Reed and Cetti’s Warblers on Dingle Marshes, plus Marsh Harrier, Hobby, Little Egret, wildfowl and waders on the wetlands. Scan to the east for visible migration, typically hirundines and passage waders.
3Clearings can attract Wood Lark in the early stages followed by Tree Pipit, Grasshopper Warbler and Nightjar. Check around the margins of conifer stands for Firecrest, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Crossbill.
4Visit around dawn for maximum bird song