A feast of wildfowl and raptors on the Suffolk coast
To the north of the busy Minsmere RSPB reserve, and within the Suffolk Coastal Area of Natural Beauty, lies a classic East Anglian landscape providing the birder with the peace and tranquility typically associated with a large wetland system. Dingle Marshes is managed by RSPB and afforded the relevant environmental protections for its mosaic of reedbeds, pools, ditches and scrubby margins. The route also borders and bisects copses, heathland, farmland and a section of Dunwich Forest to guarantee a wide range of species along the way. The Dingle Hills viewpoint is popular with birders on a fine winter afternoon for watching hunting raptors. Marsh Harriers and Barn Owls are a given across the marshes with one or two each of Hen Harrier and Short- eared Owl, while Buzzards should be checked for the chance of a Rough-legged. Red Kite and Goshawk are also increasingly being seen around the wooded margins and occasionally a Great Grey Shrike winters. In the woodland section, Crossbills are likely and maybe a flock of wintering Hawfinches, while Otters are regularly reported along the watercourse and Roe Deer on surrounding farmland. Scanning across the wetlands from Dingle Hills towards the old wind pump, as the sun dips, provides a fitting backdrop to any winter birding walk, where harriers flying to roost often disturb a Bittern amid the aerial murmurations of Starlings swirling overhead before descending into the reedbed as one for the night.