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RSPB Minsmere on Suffolk’s Coast

A couple of weeks ago, we took trip to RSPB Minsmere on the Suffolk coast for a spot of bird watching and a relaxing stroll around the 2,500 acre nature reserve. We packed our binoculars, along with a camera, walking boots, rain jackets (just in case), sunscreen (just in case) and our much-needed bird identification book.

RSPB Minsmere, Suffolk © Showcapture.com

It was a cool day, but remained dry for the duration of our visit and we had a lovely time walking along the three designated trails, stopping off at the bird hides and admiring the mix of wading birds, with avocets being a firm favourite.

RSPB Minsmere lies between Southwold to the north and Aldeburgh to the south, and within the designated Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  The site was established as a nature reserve in 1947 and is now considered one of the UK’s leading bird-watching sites.

BBC’s Springwatch is based at Minsmere for the third and final year this year and will start filming on Monday, 30th May. The ‘Springwatch effect’ has substantially raised the profile of the reserve, with visitor figures rising from 90,000 in 2013 to 124,000 in 2015.  This might make it sound like a really busy place, but the reserve feels big enough to accommodate lots of visitors without it feeling crowded and without taking anything away from the tranquility of the place.

There are eight hides scattered throughout the site overlooking the lagoons (known as The Scrape), the mere and reedbeds, each with plenty of space (two storeys!) for birdwatchers to spend a bit of time there and there are guide books to help novice birdwatchers identify what they are seeing. While we were there we saw avocets, oystercatchers, ducks, black-headed gulls, sand martins, redshank, egrets, Canada geese and more. Other wildlife to look out for include ponies, insects and you might even be lucky enough to spot an otter or two.

Three circular walking trails of between one and two miles weave their way around the reserve and there is a stretch of beach where visitors might see rare shingle flowers in the summer. Visitors can walk from here up to Dunwich Heath, an area of coastal lowland heath and beach, owned by the National Trust.

The Woodland Trail is ideal for families with young children and has the ‘Wild Zone’ with dens, bird boxes and play areas.

Do make the most of the friendly and knowledgeable staff at Minsmere, many of whom are volunteers. Guided tours are available and special events take place throughout the season. There is a well-stocked shop with a wide range of binoculars, books and gifts and a cafe selling homemade cakes and light lunches.

RSPB Minsmere is open all year (except 25th/26th December), but check here for opening times of the visitor centre and cafe and for up to date admission charges.

RSPB Minsmere, Sheepwash Lane, Saxmundham, Suffolk IP17 3BY | Tel 01728 648281 | www.rspb.org.uk

Image ©Showcapture.com


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Written by Mark

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