A winter wonderland on the Suffolk coast
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.