What could be more enjoyable than spending a few days birdwatching along the glorious Suffolk coast in autumn? Summer is not long over and the reed beds, coastal bushes and trees are buzzing with young birds, busily feeding up in preparation for the long migration south for the winter. Their numbers are augmented by birds from further north, passing through the picturesque coastal marshes and scrub. It's a time of excitement and great activity: Hobbies and Marsh Harriers hunt over the reeds; Bearded Tits get restless and form mobile parties that rove about the ditches; warblers fatten up on insects and take their fill of juicy blackberries; and Swallows and martins gather, readying themselves for imminent departure. September is a time of change and very much one to get out and enjoy the burnt umber days of autumn.
Our autumn tour is based at the highly regarded Westleton Crown, renowned for its comfortable accommodation, friendly service and great food - and within a ‘stones’ throw’ of many of our favourite birding spots...
Just down the beach we have the Dingle Marshes and a walk along the shore towards them should reward us with many waders, wildfowl and other migrants as they head south. On the local heathland, pink with flowering heather, Dartford Warbler and Woodlark numbers will be at their highest now, with plenty of young about. Hobbies dash after small birds or dragonflies, skimming the purple-pink ‘lawn’.
On one day we will enjoy a boat trip down the Alde, from Orford across to Havergate Island, now owned by the RSPB. Spoonbills and shorebirds gather on the lagoons and the local Brown Hares may allow close approach. Nestled next to the vast shingle expanse of Orfordness, there is an old and forgotten feel to the whole area.
To the south, Shingle Street and Hollesley Marsh RSPB can be busy with migrants and on the pools many species of wader such as Wood and Green Sandpipers, Little Stints and smoky grey juvenile Spotted Redshanks are often present. This is one of the best places to find Turtle Doves in Suffolk – they should still be about in September.
Of course, no visit to the Suffolk Coast would be complete without a visit to the RSPB flagship reserve at Minsmere. Established in 1947 for the protection of the local Avocets, it is ever-expanding and managed to create an impressive mosaic of habitats. Reedbeds meet stony pasture and mature woodland abuts heathland, while bird-rich flooded wetlands and the world-famous ‘scrapes’ (Minsmere's pioneeering manmade shore pools) are alive with so many species it can be hard to know what to look at first.
You just never know what surprises may be round the corner. We’ll check our favoured spots along the coast for migrants such as Ring Ouzel, Wryneck or perhaps a rare wader or two – Red-necked Phalarope and Pectoral Sandpipers have appeared in recent years. The 'tacking' calls of young Garden Warblers and Blackcaps might attract a big, sandy Barred Warbler, whilst noisy groups of terns along the shore often include small flocks of Little Gull or Black Terns on passage – and perhaps even a Roseate Tern.
Whether you are new to birdwatching or more experienced, guide David Fairhurst will be on hand throughout, to take you to the best spots and ensure you have as much fun as possible whilst seeing lots of great birds and wildlife.
Limosa has operated numerous bird tours to Suffolk over the past 30 years... Join us for a touch of 'Autumn Gold' in September and treat yourself to the very best of British birding!