A win­ter won­der­land on the Suf­folk coast

Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding - PAUL TRODD

The River Alde and wet­lands to the east of Aldeburgh have long been noted as a bird­ing hotspot, and they fall within the bound­aries of an Area of Out­stand­ing Nat­u­ral Beauty, along­side much of the Suf­folk coast and hin­ter­land. There is good pub­lic ac­cess from foot­paths and a raised em­bank­ment be­side the river, while the sea at Aldeburgh Bay should not be ig­nored, par­tic­u­larly when the wind is on­shore. A va­ri­ety of bird-rich habi­tats await the walker, in­clud­ing shin­gle fore­shore, fresh­wa­ter broads, marshes, reedbeds, farm­land and graz­ing mead­ows, plus the River Alde with its me­an­der­ing reaches. As a con­se­quence, the num­ber of pos­si­ble species is high and an ideal walk to kick­start that year list. The wet mead­ows of­ten at­tract a small flock of tun­dra Bean Geese among the more reg­u­lar White-fronts, plus the chance of pass­ing Whooper or Bewick’s Swans. Great White Egrets are now a reg­u­lar fea­ture of the wet­lands here­abouts, while Cranes are some­times re­ported drift­ing down from fur­ther north in East An­glia. A late af­ter­noon visit can be good for roost­ing birds such as large flocks of Star­lings swirling over­head and har­ri­ers head­ing for the safety of reedbed roosts. Barn and Short-eared Owls hunt the wet­lands, while stunted wil­lows should be checked for Lit­tle Owl. For those with those with mo­bil­ity is­sues much of the wet­land can be viewed from the river­side em­bank­ment track, while well be­haved dogs are also wel­come on the pub­lic foot­paths. Choose a still, frosty win­ter day to en­joy this su­perb bird­ing walk.

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