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WildSuffolk The membership magazine for Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Winter 2019/20

YOUR RESERVES

Love & protect A WILDER FUTURE

Why the future of wildlife and wild spaces is in the hands of our children

Where to head for a wild time this winter

HELP WINTER WILDLIFE

10 ways you can support your garden wildlife


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Welcome

A hunger for change The 2019 State of Nature report brings together a vast body of research. It’s not a light read but the conclusions are clear - nature in the UK faces a crisis. As a country we care deeply about nature but successive government policies have exacerbated its decline. Are we now on the cusp of change? There is political recognition that ‘public money’ for agriculture must be for ‘public goods’ and should link financial support to improving biodiversity and sustainability indicators for soils and water. This coincides with concerns within farming about the over-exploitation of soils. ‘Regenerative agriculture’ is the buzzword for farming, as ‘wilding’ is for conservation. It puts soils at the heart of farming and, by increasing organic matter, it nourishes invertebrates, worms and mycorrhiza – the building blocks of ecological and agricultural health. Increased organic matter also locks up carbon. Farming has set itself a target of being carbon neutral by 2040 but is it possible for it to be carbon positive? It would be an exciting future that sees the harnessing of innovation and technology for soil restoration and renewable energy alongside new woodland and nature-based solutions. The imminent prospect of an Environment Act offers further hope. Thanks to lobbying by the Wildlife Trusts, the development of a Nature Recovery Network is central to this proposed legislation. Such a network, locally planned and delivered, would transform habitat connectivity at a landscape scale. Finally there is growing acceptance that all new development must be Biodiversity Net Gain. Major developments should create large areas of greenspace, sympathetically managed for wildlife, to enable communities to live alongside nature. We have seen false dawns before but this time there is real momentum for change. LE-JHEL

Chief Executive State of Nature nbn.org.uk/stateofnature2019

Suffolk Wildlife Trust Wild Suffolk is the membership magazine for Suffolk Wildlife Trust info@suffolkwildlifetrust.org Telephone 01473 890089 Address Suffolk Wildlife Trust, Brooke House, Ashbocking IP6 9JY Registered charity number 262777 Website suffolkwildlifetrust.org Facebook @suffolkwildlife Twitter @suffolkwildlife Instagram suffolkwildlifetrust Flickr.com/photos/suffolkwildlifetrust

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Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

2019 photo competition entry by Le-Jhel Williams.

Get in touch Our Membership Manager, Nicola Martin is happy to help with any questions about your membership on 01473 890089. Wild Suffolk Magazine Team Editor Matt Gaw Designer Clare Sheehan Consultant editor Sophie Stafford Consultant art editor Tina Smith Hobson Cover: Fox Alamy Stock Photo

Suffolk Wildlife Trust is one of a national network of Wildlife Trusts dedicated to safeguarding the future of wildlife for the benefit of all.


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Contents

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4 Your wild winter

The best of the season’s wildlife and where to enjoy it on your local patch.

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KEVIN COOTE / JOHN FERGUSON

10 Wild reserves

Why winter is the best time of year to visit these Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserves.

13 Wild thoughts

Melissa Harrison on how the shifting seasons connect us to place.

14 Gardening for wildlife Ten ways your garden can help winter wildlife.

16 Wild news

Local and national wildlife news.

21 Taking action for insects

New report reveals true impacts of invertebrate apocalypse.

22 Picture perfect

All of the winning shots from our 2019 photography competition.

28 A sizeable threat to wildlife

The building of Sizewell C will have profound and negative impacts on Suffolk's wildlife.

30 Love and protect

Our five-year vision for winning young wild hearts and minds.

36 Wild about the town

ALAMY

From peregrines to deer, we focus on the wildlife that is thriving in our urban spaces.

6 ways to get involved with Suffolk Wildlife Trust Volunteer Could you donate your

What's On Browse our

Shop Our online shop and Lackford

Donate to Carlton Help

Wildlife groups Join one

Leave a legacy After a lifetime’s

skills and time to look after wildlife? A wide range of indoor and outdoor tasks need doing suffolkwildlifetrust.org/volunteer

us raise £75,000 for the new trails and viewpoints at Carlton Marshes. suffolkwildlifetrust.org/new-trails

comprehensive county-wide events listing, for Tots to Teens and adults. suffolkwildlifetrust.org/events

of our network of local groups and help make a difference to nature where you live. suffolkwildlifetrust.org/wildlifegroups

Lakes visitor centre stock a wide range of nature-related items and gifts. suffolkwildlifetrust.org/shop

pleasure from nature, please help ensure its future by leaving us a gift in your Will. suffolkwildlifetrust.org/will Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

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Your wild winter The best of the season’s wildlife and where to enjoy it in Suffolk

Territorial behaviour in tawny owls continues late into winter, with the first eggs usually laid in February or March. Incubation starts with the first egg, leading to asynchronous hatching, a strategy that improves the chances of at least some chicks surviving in challenging conditions.

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Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20


T h a n k y ou

Thanks to your m embership, we are working hard to make sure species such as ta wny owls continue to thrive in Suffolk’s woodland habitat and are able to spread out into the wider countryside.

WINTER SPECTACLE

A merry note on a winter’s night Haunting pitch dark woodlands and even visiting suburban gardens, the call of the tawny owl is probably one of the most familiar of any UK owl – and is most often heard during the autumn and winter months. In Love’s Labour’s Lost, William Shakespeare writes evocatively of winter, describing how “When icicles hang by the wall... When blood is nipped, and ways be foul, Then nightly sings the staring owl, Towhoo; To-whit, to-whoo, a merry note". Of course, the bird Shakespeare evokes is in fact two; the female’s sharp ke-wick, typically answered by the male’s long, tremulous hoot. With its nocturnal habits, brown colouration and jet-black eyes, tawny owls can be extremely hard to spot, but their calls can be easily heard from late autumn and through the winter months – underlining the fact that this species breeds early in the year. Look out too for tawny pellets (greyer and furrier than those of the barn owl) which contain remains from their meals of mice, voles and even small birds. Tawny owls are an adaptable species and have even been known to take goldfish from garden ponds.

JOHN GOODAY ALAMY

SEE THEM THIS WINTER † Arger Fen The call of tawny owls can often be heard shaking through the woods of Arger Fen & Spouse’s Vale as soon as the day tips towards twilight. † Captain's Wood A special place for an evening walk any time of the year, the call of the tawny lends this ancient woodland an extra sprinkle of magic. † Knettishall Heath Take a seat by the river or perch on Hut Hill and listen to the tawnys’ call. Reserve info & maps suffolkwildlifetrust.org/nature-reserves

Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

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YOUR WILD WINTER

Winter bloom Winter is a time of cold, of frost and freeze. But from January signs of growth can be seen across Suffolk’s countryside. Although traditionally believed to cause misfortune if taken indoors, blankets of snowdrops in a woodland (introduced to the UK in the sixteenth century) are a welcome sign of coming thaw. Look out too for the butterbright, star-shaped flowers of lesser celandine and primroses. The latter, often appearing in creamy-yellow clusters in woodland rides are one of the first wild flowers to bloom and can also be found at the edges of hedgerows or grassland. SEE THEM THIS AUTUMN & WINTER † Bradfield Woods The open rides and sunny glades at Bradfield are the perfect places to find primroses. † Reydon Wood Primroses can be found in among the medieval coppice.

The soft petals of a primrose or the lolling head of a snowdrop are a sure sign that spring is on its way.

FIELDCRAFT

SHUTTERSTOCK

In flight, the woodlark shows a short tail and short broad wings. The tail is tipped with white, but unlike the skylark, the tail sides and the rear edge of the wings are not trimmed with white.

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Wild Suffolk | Winter 201920/20

Following your ears to a woodlark Winter is a great time to track wildlife as the dieback of vegetation, the bare branches of trees, make many species easier to spot. But it’s also important to trust your ears. While most people in Suffolk will know the skylark’s song – an endless fizzing song that trembles over field, marsh and heath – not so many will have heard the woodlark. One of the earliest spring migrants to arrive in the county, its Latin name, Lullula perfectly describes its beautiful, fluting song.

How to

SPOT A WOODLARK † Listen The woodlark’s

melodious, warbling song rivals the nightingale and it is easy to identify. Listen out for a lu-lu-lu, toolooeet, toolooeet, toolooeet. † Look up The male woodlark has a song-flight similar to the skylark, but he flutters more as he spirals upwards. Both male and female birds also sing from the ground. † Wrap up Dress for the cold and head to Blaxhall Common between February and March.


SEE THIS

With its glossy, golden-orange caps, the velvet shank, or 'winter mushroom' is commonly seen growing in clusters on stumps of decaying hard wood.

DO THIS

Get in tune with the season by repeatedly visiting a favourite wild spot. Feel the earth clench with the cold and watch out for the first signs of spring.

SPECIES SPOTLIGHT

Red fox

ALAMY

TRACK A FOX

BIG BOY Dog foxes are generally larger with a broader, slightly domed head.

Special fox Foxes are adapted to a wide range of habitats and can RADAR EARS be found across Suffolk, A hunting fox from nature reserves and VIEW TO A KILL can hear a Foxes have binocular the countryside to urban mouse from vision, which is incredibly locations. Most sightings 100 feet away. sensitive to movement. of foxes will be of single animals and for many years it was believed that foxes were largely solitary, coming single, or triple-bark contact call DROPPINGS together only to mate. We now of vixens to wandering males. 10-15cm know that foxes live in family Both sexes will also use a groups and have a complex blood-chilling scream during social life. the mating season: a short and Winter is perhaps the most explosive “scream”, which is complex time of all. With the Signs of a male's warning to rivals and Obviously fur bone & turn of the year, foxes are at a “shriek” that is used by both tapered their most vocal as they defend feather sexes, but especially by females to territory (often physically) and attract mates. begin mating in January. This is also the time when last year’s young move away A bit of fieldcraft from the family group to establish their own Due to the extra emphasis on territory territories. Vixens will also be seeking out during January, field edges (which form natal earths, with the first cubs usually born boundaries) can be very well trodden, with in March. lots of footprints, scat and the tell-tale niff of urine. What to look and listen for Vixens only come into heat once a year and SEE THEM THIS AUTUMN & WINTER as she approaches peak fertility the dog fox † Lackford Lakes There have been at least will never be far away. At this time of year it’s two natal earths at Lackford and the sight of quite common to see a vixen being closely a winter fox in daylight is not unusual. followed by a male with the height of his tail † Redgrave & Lopham Fen Look out for indicative of increased excitement! tracks through the reeds. Even if you don’t see a fox, the chances † Lound Lakes Four fox cubs emerged from are you’ll hear one. Calling is an important an earth at Lound Lakes last year. method of communication for foxes and some scientists have suggested there are at Reserve info & maps least 28 groups of fox sound. Listen for the suffolkwildlifetrust.org/nature-reserves

Footprints The forefeet middle toes of a fox are close together with the rear pad a greater distance from the front toes.

Droppings They are around the size of a domestic dog but are more obviously tapered and contain fur and bones.

Hairs on fences Look out for hairs on fences, thorny hedges or gates where foxes have slipped between fields.

Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

ADOBE STOCK / ALAMY / RSPB IMAGES

STEVE AYLWARD

Winter is an active time for the red fox, with the mating season in January while last year’s young disperse to find a territory of their own.

Top tips

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HEAR THIS

The drilling beat of the greater-spotted woodpecker as it establishes territory in late winter is a drumroll for spring.

FORAGE FOR THIS

While nettles aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, the new growth of February is packed with vitamins and can be used in numerous recipes.

NOT JUST FOR KIDS

Seven ways to enjoy nature this winter Why should kids have all the fun? Feed your love of nature with these really wild things to do.

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ALAMY

WATCH THE RISE OF THE HUNTER Head to a nature reserve with good sightlines of the sky (one of our heathland sites would be ideal) to see one of the jewels of winter. Look north to see Orion the hunter, a slightly lopsided rectangle with the reddish Betelgeuse in one corner and bluish Rigel in the opposite corner. Halfway in between are the three stars of Orion's belt. Keep your eyes peeled for nocturnal species that may share the night with you.

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ALAMY

SEARCH FOR FOSSILS & BONE It might be a bit chilly for a paddle, but head to the coast to see what has been exposed by Suffolk’s wild seas. You might be lucky enough to find a sharks’ tooth by Bawdsey and Ramsholt.

DELIGHT AT BARK AND BOUGH Winter trees are a spectacle to behold. Not only do they look amazing but they are host to a whole range of life, including squirrels, birds and fungi. Grab your favourite tree book and see how many you can identify through bark, bare branches and twigs.

RICHARD BEDFORD ALAMY

WATCH THE FLOCKS With huge numbers of wild fowl at Alde Mudflats, Trimley Marshes and Hazlewood Marshes or gulls roosting at Lackford, head out to watch birds gather in large numbers.

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Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/2020

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LOOK OUT FOR SIGNS OF SPRING While the short days and cold weather may seem interminable, it won’t be long before spring arrives. Look out for catkins on ash trees and the glossy buds on horse chestnuts. Why not start your own spring diary?

ADOBE STOCK

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JANE RIX ALAMY

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YOUR WILD WINTER

10 winter events

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FOLLOW THE FEETINGS ‘Feetings’ is a lovely East Anglian word meaning the footprints left in snow by animals. Whether it is after a flurry, a blizzard or even a hard frost, head somewhere wild to see whose tracks you can find.

Take your pick from this selection of some of the best seasonal activities and events close to you.

ALAMY

1 Butterflies of SWT nature reserves 18 February 7.30pm Broadway House, Orwell Road, Felixstowe IP11 7DD Get ready for butterfly season on our reserves with Steve Aylward.

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MAKE A BIRDBOX You have until Valentine’s Day to get your bird box spick and span for spring. Winter is also a great time to make additional homes for our feathered friends. Visit wildlifetrusts.org/ actions/how-build-nesting-box-birds to see how you can make a difference for birds in your garden.

N at u re cra ft

YOU WILL NEED l Rough cut, unplaned, untreated, softwood timber, 15cm wide x 150cm long x 1.5cm thick l Scrap rubber, such as an old inner tube l Galvanised 20 mm (3/4") nails l Saw, hammer, drill, pencil, ruler, scissors

1 MARK OUT AND SAW PANEL

Dimensions need not be precise; make the box to suit the materials available, rather than buying materials to match any given dimensions.

2 Wild Reads walking book club 27 February 1pm-2.30pm Christchurch Park Discuss our Wild Reads book of the month. In partnership with Suffolk Libraries. 3 Mosaic hare weekend workshop 7 & 8 March 10am-4pm Redgrave and Lopham Fen Craft your own hare with Joy Holden.

6 Dyeing, felting & braiding 15 April 11am-4pm Bradfield Woods Experience the joy of fibrecrafts. 7 Tracks and trails 16 April 10.30am-2.30pm Knettishall Heath Improve your fieldcraft and track your way around the heath. 8 Plant sale 19 April 10am-3pm Redgrave & Lopham Fen If you have green fingers, this is a must - exhibitors include 20 award-winning and specialist nurseries.

4 Spring discovery day 5 April 11am-4pm Lackford Lakes Celebrate spring at Lackford Lakes.

9 May Fair 10 May 11am-4pm Foxburrow Farm Pond dipping, storytelling, crafts and outdoor games. Farm trails. Plants and gifts for sale. Live music, folk dancing and refreshments.

5 The most mysterious egg 9 April 10.30am-12.30pm Arger Fen Chocolate egg hunt for families.

10 Evening chorus walk Friday 15 May 6pm-10pm Carlton Marshes Guided walk around our flagship reserve, followed by supper.

2 CHOSE YOUR BOX TYPE Choose your feeder Hole fronted: blue tit (25mm) great tit (28mm) sparrow (38mm) starling (45mm)

Open fronted box for robins

Browse more events or book on our website suffolkwildlifetrust.org/events

3 ASSEMBLE THE BOX Nail the panels together

PUT IT 2-5m above the ground, somewhere sheltered

Fix on the roof panel with a hinge or strip of old rubber

JOHN FERGUSON

ILLUSTRATIONS: CORINNE WELCH

4 WHERE TO

Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

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Discover wild Redgrave & Lo One of five valley fens that stretch around north Suffolk like the most beautiful of necklaces, Redgrave & Lopham National Nature Reserve is a place of percolating water and wildlife. Take a walk during winter to enjoy the sussurating sigh of reeds, murmurating starlings and barn owls ghosting silently overhead. 10

Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

Even in the depths of winter, when the earth is battened down against the cold, there is still movement at Redgrave & Lopham Fen. It is there in the sedge and in the reeds, it is there in the lightningflash flight of small birds and it’s there in the water – whether it is in sharp-backed, wind-pushed ripples or the welling-up at the source of the Little Ouse and Waveney rivers. And it is water, which bubbles up through the chalks, sands and gravels laid down by the retreating ice 10,000 years ago, that makes this reserve what it is. The complex hydrology has created more than 400 acres that is full of incredibly diverse wetland plant communities that are now recognised as having international importance. Natural processes are at the heart of this fen’s existence, with peat forming over thousands of years as the great lake that once filled the head of the Waveney Valley slowly became overgrown with

vegetation. But it is a cultural landscape too. As the fen developed, the peat, sedge and reed were exploited by humans, a process which helped shape and modify the mosaic of habitats – while also preventing the wetland from becoming woodland. That fine balance between natural processes and the movements of people has not always been maintained. During the 18th century, drainage and river engineering re-shaped the valleys, but due to Redgrave & Lopham Fen’s status as ‘Poor’s’ land, its unique character was largely retained. That is not to say the reserve has been without its problems. In 1959 a borehole was placed in the same aquifer that feeds this

Barn owls are often seen quartering Redgrave & Lopham Fen.


OUR BEST WINTER RESERVES

T h a n k y ou

Thanks to your su pport, we can look after Redg rave & Lopham Fen, ensu ring it remains a unique refuge for some of the UK ’s rarest wildlife.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

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Redgrave & Lopham Fen

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

Natural processes are at the heart of this fen's existence

opham Fen valley fen, drying out precious habitats and encouraging the development of scrub and woodland. It was due to the site’s importance and the peril it faced, that Suffolk Wildlife Trust was formed in 1961. The restoration work, which started with the removal of the borehole, has continued ever since. And, although the time the Trust has looked after the reserve is, in ecological terms, just the briefest of blinks, Redgrave & Lopham Fen is now one of the foremost nature reserves in Suffolk and an exceptional place for wildlife. The past five years have seen marsh harrier return to this place of water and reed to breed. While winter might not

DID YOU KNOW Redgrave &

Lopham Fen is the largest valley fen in England and home to 270 different species of plant life.

ADOBE STOCK

STEVE AYLWARD

Explore a landscape of old times and new beginnings.

their asymmetrical paw prints. There is beauty to be found in the small things too. In the scrapes and pools, where the fen raft spider hibernate, live rare stoneworts and insectivorous bladderworts. A visit at sunset can also be rewarding (as well as bracing). Along with large, chattering flocks of starlings that gather in huge numbers like rhine-coated ruffians across the fen, the reserve is a stronghold for barn owls. The open reedbeds are the perfect place to watch them hunt, gliding on silent wings, before dropping down on their prey with talons spread. There is plenty of choice where to go too, with seven different walking routes that take in everything from woodland and heath to pools and rivers. A favourite way to explore the reserve is the Waveney Trail, a 6.5km path that takes in Little Fen, Middle Fen and Great Fen before reaching the source of the River Waveney. It seems appropriate in this place of old time and new beginnings to see the birth of this Broadland waterway and wonder at just how a squelch becomes a river.

TOP WILDLIFE TO SPOT Barn owl: As the sun sets, watch for the powder-white glow of a barn owl drifting between the fens. Daylight sightings can be common the day after rain. Marsh harrier: Whether it is the larger, brown female with the more obvious creamy head, or the ink-dipped wings of the male, marsh harriers are a common sight at this reserve. Listen too for its he-ya call. Otter: With so much clean, fresh water, it’s not surprising that otters have found a home at Redgrave & Lopham. Although notoriously hard to spot, look out for their footprints and spraint at the reed edges. THINGS TO DO

ALAMY STOCK PHOTO / STEVE AYLWARD

provide the spring drama of feeding displays or fledglings taking their first, awkward flights, the sight of a harrier gliding over a frost-bitten fen – its large wings held in a trembling V – is stirring enough. Keep your eyes peeled too for otter, whether it is a disappearing rudder-like tail or just

Location: Low Common Road, South Lopham, Diss, Suffolk IP22 2HX. How to get there: There is ample free parking at the reserve. Opening times: Free entry all year round, dawn to dusk. Access: Fully accessible education centre with disabled toilet, open during events. Picnic area and designated parking. Wheelchairs may be pushed over some paths in dry conditions, but there are rough unmade surfaces that can get muddy! Café Piccalo coffee van every Sunday 10am-3pm. Five waymarked trails ranging from 0.5 to 6.5km. Trail maps available on our website. Phone for information: 01473 890089 Email: info@suffolkwildlifetrust.org Website: suffolkwildlifetrust.org/redgrave

† One valley fen not enough? Explore our other reserves nearby at Roydon, Thelnetham, Hopton and Market Weston. † If you don’t want to walk a circuit, why not keep going on the Angles Way, which stretches from the Brecks to the Broads. † Rest and warm your feet at The Crown in nearby South Lopham.

Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

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OUR BEST WINTER RESERVES

More Suffolk Wildlife Trust nature reserves for a great winter day out LOWESTOFT

PLAN YOUR VISIT

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BURY ST EDMUNDS

3 2

STOWMARKET

ALDEBURGH

A143

HAVERHILL IPSWICH

FELIXSTOWE

PLAN YOUR VISIT

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Hazlewood Marshes Nature Reserve

Why now? Winter at Hazlewood Marshes is a special time, when vast flocks of wildfowl and geese graze and roost on the reserve. While the reserve offers opportunities to view some incredible wildlife, it also has a unique, almost melancholy atmosphere. Look out for huge numbers of black-tailed godwits and dunlin.

(caution advised if visiting around high tide a day or two either side of a full, or new moon as the path to the hide can be covered for up to half an hour). Wildlife to spot: Black-tailed godwits, dunlin, spoonbill, waders and rare, unexpected winter migrants. Find out more: suffolkwildlifetrust.org/ hazlewoodmarshes

Know before you go Location: Marsh Lane, near Aldeburgh IP17 1PG (limited free parking). Open: Free entry all year, dawn to dusk

The lowdown The past two decades have seen incredible transformation at Hazlewood, which extends out from the northern shore of the Alde estuary. In 1991, when the reserve was secured, the land was freshwater grazing marsh. Under the Trust’s management diversity increased, but then in December 2013 a huge tidal surge left much of the reserve underwater. Wildlife writer Simon Barnes, wrote in The Sunday Times that the incident was as “dramatic as a bomb going off”. The reserve is now one of the largest natural sites inter-tidal habitat creation projects in the UK and its fascinating transformation from fresh water grazing to salt marsh is one of Suffolk’s best kept secrets.

STEVE AYLWARD

One of Suffolk's most atmospheric and dynamic reserves.

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Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

Why now? Nestled in the ship-like shadow of the famous Maltings on the north bank of the River Alde, Snape Marshes is a place of wildlife wonder and true diversity. A walk in the winter, when the low sun sends pencillines of shadow through the reeds and large numbers of waders gather on the estuary’s gloopy mud, is a rare treat. Look out too for otter in the fresh-water dykes that crisscross the reserve as well as kingfisher, marsh harrier and barn owl. Know before you go Location: Priory Road, Snape – off A1094 Aldeburgh Road (just past the Golden Key pub) Saxmundham IP17 1SE. Open: Free entry all year, dawn to dusk. Wildlife to spot: seals, terns, gulls and winter migrants. Find out more: suffolkwildlifetrust.org/ snapemarshes

Wildlife in the shadow of the famous Maltings.

STEVE AYLWARD

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Snape Marshes Nature Reserve

The lowdown For a site of only 75 acres, there is a huge range of habitat at Snape Marshes – ranging from beautiful veteran oaks to dry heathland edge and reed-filled marshes. The Trust purchased the reserve in 2009, and it forms part of a network of habitats between the Alde and Blyth estuaries to create what is Suffolk’s largest unbroken tract of semi-natural wildness. Info & maps for all reserves suffolkwildlifetrust.org/naturereserves


WILD THOUGHTS

Melissa Harrison

ILLUSTRATION: ROBIN MACKENZIE

Connect with winter this year When I lived in a city, winter didn’t mean much more than a warmer coat for my commute. Now I live in a rural village it seems darker, longer and colder, but also more interesting, with so much to observe and take pleasure in. The slow cycle of the seasons is now a central part of my life. These days nearly 90 per cent of us live in urban areas where, unless we get outdoors and immerse ourselves in nature, seasonal changes are much less noticeable than in the countryside. But while insulating ourselves from the colder months with 24/7 street lighting and temperature-controlled offices may be convenient, it comes at a cost. Our bodies and minds evolved in nature, alert to its cycles. Studies have shown that part of the brain knows what time of year it is outside and adjusts our immune system and metabolism accordingly, even if the subjects involved are entirely protected from seasonal cues. It’s only very recently in evolutionary terms that we’ve started spending so much time indoors; just a blink of an aeon, in fact. Perhaps that’s why forging a year-round connection to nature can prove so rewarding, because it’s something our brains have evolved over millennia to do. Tuning in to cyclical events like the slow ripening of apples, the blossoming of ivy flowers providing late food for bees, the shy eruption of mushrooms among the leaf litter or the peeping calls of redwings migrating over cities after dark – these things root us in time as well as place, creating a feeling of

connection that becomes stronger, more A LITTLE BIT WILD rewarding and more enriching with every passing year. Study the seasons There’s a good case to be made for Phenology is the study spending daily time outdoors in nature, of cyclical natural whatever the weather (within reason!) phenomena. Several and all times of the year. Perhaps it’s a projects record sightings lunchtime stroll that takes in your local from citizen scientists, green space, an evening run around a so you can contribute nature reserve or a new morning route to these valuable, longto the bus stop that takes you across a running studies of nature. nearby common: build it into your routine Visit wildlifetrusts.org/ and you’ll soon feel the benefits. Having citizen-science a dog is a great motivator; any owner will tell you the benefits to body and mind that come from taking their four-legged friend out every day – even if they may grumble a little on rainy mornings! Watching even the humblest place change through all four seasons will lead you to know it intimately, a deep, atavistic pleasure that connects us to our past and helps prepare us for an uncertain future, too. The more connected we are to our Melissa environment, the more likely we are Harrison is to protect it – so when the days draw a nature writer in, keep going out; keep looking, keep and novelist, listening, keep loving the natural world. and editor of the anthologies Spring, Summer, Go wild this winter From bugling cranes to Autumn and bubbling brent geese, there’s a world of wild Winter, produced wonders to get you outside this winter. Find your in support of The next adventure at wildlifetrusts.org/winter-wildlife Wildlife Trusts.

Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

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How you can

help wildlife this winter

Bird box Birds may use these to roost communally on very cold nights. Fill them with dry leaves or similar material to make them warmer.

From log and leaf piles to open compost heaps and towers of terracotta pots by the side of the shed, Kate Bradbury reveals how we can provide safe habitats for overwintering wildlife in our gardens.

Long and tufty grass Caterpillars and other insects hunker down in the thatch. Some caterpillars may emerge on mild days to eat the grass, so try to leave it uncut until mid-spring.

Log pile Insects hide beneath the logs, while amphibians and small mammals, such as these wood mice, shelter in gaps. Fill them with autumn leaves to make them more snug.

Compost heap A large, open heap will attract insects, including bumblebees, and amphibians, such as this smooth newt. It may even lure mammals such as hedgehogs. Try to leave it undisturbed until April.

Pond Frogs (particularly males) overwinter at the bottom of ponds so they can be the first to mate in spring. Float a ball on the surface to stop it freezing over.

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Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

Seedheads Seedheads provide shelter for ladybirds and other insects in winter, and offer a natural source of food for birds, so leave them standing until spring.


GARDENING FOR WILDLIFE With the notable exception of birds, most garden wildlife lies dormant over winter, with only a few species, such as hedgehogs, truly hibernating. The rest spend winter in various states of ‘torpor’ – not fully shutting down their bodies as true hibernating animals do. That’s why, on sunny days, you may spot frogs swimming at the bottom of your pond, or bats flying on mild evenings. Even true hibernating animals have a break from all that sleeping – hedgehogs wake up and move nest sites at least once during the cold months. But on the whole, much of our wildlife isn’t seen from around November to March. Where does it go? Insects might crawl into seedheads or wedge themselves beneath bark for winter. A pile of leaf litter might shelter anything from caterpillars, beetles, centipedes and woodlice to larger species, such as amphibians and mammals. Others hide

deep down in the thatch of long or tufty grass, bury themselves in the soil, or shuffle into the still-warm grass clippings and food waste in the compost heap. Wildlife is very vulnerable at this time. Disturbing mammals can cause them to waste energy that they can’t easily replenish, while insects can be exposed to fungal infections if they get damp. Providing winter refuges (called hibernacula) will help wildlife overwinter – but not disturbing these habitats once you’ve created them is imperative to their survival. Spare a thought for birds, too, which have to battle it out in winter, instead of hibernating. Growing berrying plants, feeding them and creating cosy roosts can help them in winter, too.

Kate Bradbury is passionate about wildlife-friendly gardening and the author of Wildlife Gardening for Everyone and Everything in association with The Wildlife Trusts.

Gardens of all sizes are an essential part of a Nature Recovery Network. For more tips visit wildlifetrusts.org/gardening

Shed

Bird feeders Birds need as many calories as they can find during the short winter days to give them the energy they need to survive each night. Provide energy-rich suet products, peanuts and sunflower hearts. You can even buy window-mounted feeders if you don’t have a garden.

Garden borders Lots of insects like to shelter among fallen plant stems, particularly hollow stems. Try not to cut back or tidy the border until spring – leave it to rot down naturally, instead.

Soil A wide range of species overwinter in the soil, from slow worms to moth pupae and bumblebees. Try to resist digging the soil until mid-spring when they’ll be awake.

Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

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ILLUSTRATION: HANNAH BAILEY, PHOTO: SARAH CUTTLE

Adult butterflies may sneak into your shed or outhouse to overwinter on the walls, where they resemble leaves. Make sure there’s a gap so they can leave in spring.


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WILD NEWS

species of dragonfly were recorded at Carlton Marshes in 2019, making the reserve one of the best places in Britain to see these stunning insects.

Highlights from Suffolk and national news from The Wildlife Trusts

RESERVES

The fish eagle has landed On a reserve that is famous across the UK for its kingfishers, it was the king of fishers that caused excitement at Lackford Lakes. A pair of osprey flew onto the site in October 2019 as they made their way to their wintering grounds in central Africa. They were seen hunting around the shallower lakes and spent a great deal of time over ‘The Slough’ where they performed a number of successful fishing sweeps. Another osprey joined them two days later. The last bird was wearing a leg ring with a unique code relating to its breeding ground – we believe from information and photos to date – to be 16

Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

from Rutland Water. It is not known where the other two birds, one of which was a juvenile, came from. It isn’t uncommon for osprey to stop and feed during migration – after, all they need the fuel – but usually their visits are much more fleeting. The breeding adults will return to northern breeding grounds the following spring with sexually immature birds remaining in Central Africa until they are ready to head north. A pair of osprey were also spotted at Hen Reedbeds in September, where they fished from the river wall. Ospreys are amber-listed, with between 200 and 250 breeding pairs in the UK.

Have your say You can share your pictures and wildlife experiences by visiting our Facebook pages.

IAN GOODALL

DAVID TIPLING ALAMY

An osprey drops into Lackford Lakes.


NEWS

Together

we’re stronger

700

The latest Suffolk mural by street artist ATM.

Wild graffitti Renowned street artist ATM has struck again – creating his fifth mural for Suffolk Wildlife Trust and the fourth in Lowestoft. The artwork at Rotterdam Road, depicting a Norfolk hawker dragonfly, was created in October and is part of a Wild Graffiti Trail across the town that feature species living at Carlton Marshes. The Norfolk hawker joins a marsh harrier (at Oulton Broad), a barn owl (on the wall at Lowestoft Tandoori) and a kingfisher (near Bascule Bridge). The trail, which is designed to increase people’s connection with the 1,000 acres of wildness neighbouring the town, will culminate with a piece of ATM’s artwork

LOWESTOFT

at the new visitor centre at Carlton Marshes, which is due to open this spring. The process of creating these artworks for Lowestoft is a shared community effort, with most of the supplies and equipment for this new piece provided free of charge. Local businesses OBS Scaffolding Ltd, Marie from Dragonfly Decorators, Ivy House Country Hotel, Brewers and Chris Quinnell all kindly provided their time and services. ATM, who studied Fine Art at Sheffield University, uses public art to inspire and to highlight our most pressing environmental issues, including threatened species.

A boat load of wood Timber from Bradfield Woods will be used to construct a full-scale, working replica of the Sutton Hoo Anglo Saxon ship. The crowd-funded project, led by the Sutton Hoo Ship’s Company, will see the building of a ninety-foot ship based on ancient remains discovered in the famous barrows of Sutton Hoo. wMaterials for the scheme, which will provide new insights into the craftsmanship and seamanship of the Anglo-Saxons, are being sourced as locally as possible to The Longshed in Woodbridge. Goat willow from Bradfield will be used to make ‘tree nails’, while coppiced ash will be turned into 40 large oars.

wild events

ranging from baby groups to adult courses are planned around the county this year. Visit suffolk wildlifetrust.org to plan your next wild experience.

15,000 rare

natterjack toad tadpoles were recorded at Sizewell Belts in 2019, a Suffok Wildlife Trust record for this reserve!

Thank

you!

7,200

WOODBRIDGE

acres, an area equal to eight towns the size of Bury St Edmunds, is managed by the Trust to benefit wildlife and people. Our reserves are exceptional places, from which species can spread into the wider countryside.

SUT TON HOO

KEVIN COOTE

Here are some of the ways your membership has been helping to protect your local wildlife.

3 For more information about the project visit saxonship.org/

turtle doves

were heard purring at Black Bourn, with two confirmed breeding pairs – great news for a species that has suffered a dramatic and worrying decline.

Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

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UK NEWS UK UPDATE

SHORESEARCHERS: ULSTER WILDLIFE

A shore thing

A shoal of citizen scientists across the UK will be learning more about our shorelines than ever before, following the launch of The Wildlife Trusts’ new and improved Shoresearch programme. This national citizen science survey trains volunteers to monitor the marine life around our coasts, gathering valuable data that will help experts monitor our sea life and better understand the effects of pollution and climate change. Surveys focus on the intertidal zone (the area of the shore that is covered by water at high tide, but exposed to the air at low tide). They take place on all shores, rocky, sandy and muddy alike, to chart coastal wildlife around the UK. Anyone can become a budding marine biologist by attending a free Shoresearch event hosted by a coastal Wildlife Trust. Regular volunteers will be trained to identify and record intertidal plants and animals and their habitats, from colourful butterfish hiding in rockpools to weird and wonderful worms buried in the sand and mud. Previous Shoresearch surveys have used different approaches depending on which part of the UK they took place 18

Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

in. Now, for the first time, the same methods will be used across the UK, giving us even better data and ensuring that species records can be compared between different regions and changes can be monitored. The data collected by Shoresearch in the past has already been key to securing many of our Marine Conservation Zones, revealing the special places on our coast that are most in need of protection. Following the Government’s designation of 41 new Marine Conservation Zones this summer (including Suffolk's Orford Inshore) bringing the total in English waters to 91). The Shoresearch programme will be crucial for monitoring the health of the coastal regions of many of these protected areas. Shoresearch launched during this year’s National Marine Week, the annual celebration of our seas in which thousands of people enjoyed coastal activities, from rockpool rambles to whale watching. Find out more Learn more about Shoresearch and discover how you can get involved: wildlifetrusts.org/shoresearch

A YEAR OF SUCCESS FOR OUR SEAS n More protection – this May the Government announced the designation of 41 new Marine Conservation Zones, adding to the 50 already designated. These will form a vital series of underwater habitats which, with the right management, will allow nature to recover. n Better information – The Wildlife Trusts’ new Shoresearch programme launched in July, giving citizen scientists the chance to survey our shores, gathering vital data on the health of our coastal wildlife. n Fantastic support – thousands of people across the UK, Alderney and the Isle of Man joined us in celebrating our seas during National Marine Week.


NEWS

UK HIGHLIGHTS

UK UPDATE

A new chapter

Discover how The Wildlife Trusts are working for you across the UK

The Wildlife Trusts has appointed a new Chief Executive, following the departure of Stephanie Hilborne OBE. Craig Bennett, who currently is Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth, will take up the post from April 2020. Craig is fully supportive of our shared commitment to not just simply conserve nature, but to restore ecosystem function and abundance, in line with our focus on a Wilder Future. He recognises the unique position we are in as a movement with local knowledge, people and relationships to truly deliver nature restoration at the scale required. Steph, who led the Trusts for 15 years and whose work was instrumental in securing the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, has taken up a new role as CEO of Women in Sport. wildlifetrusts.org/ceo-steps-down

2

1 Moor wildlife

1 3

600 acres of wildlife-rich moorland have been saved from potential development by Northumberland Wildlife Trust, thanks to incredible support for their fundraising appeal. Benshaw Moor is home to round-leaved sundews and sphagnum mosses, as well as nesting curlews, otters and rare butterflies. The site will now be protected as a nature reserve. nwt.org.uk/news/benshaw

MARK HAMBLIN

Round-leaved sundew

25 years of support land, including at Carlton Marshes, protect rare and vulnerable wildlife and bring people of all generations closer to nature, from helping barn owls in Northern Ireland to restoring wild landscapes in Scotland. Learn more at wildlifetrusts.org/25year-lottery

SAND LIZARD: VAUGHN MATTHEWS

Saving sand dunes A pioneering project is stepping in to save Europe’s most threatened habitat, sand dunes. Home to rare plants and animals, including fen orchids and sand lizards, the last century has seen them decline dramatically. The ambitious Dynamic Dunescapes project aims to reverse these declines, working with local people to bring life back to our dunes. This partnership project was made possible by £4m funding from The National Lottery. wildlifetrusts.org/saving-sand-dunes

2 Tern tracking

ANDY ROUSE

In November, The National Lottery celebrated its 25th birthday and we look back on a quarter of a century of support for wildlife and wild places across the UK. Since the first draw in 1994, The National Lottery has raised over £40 billion for good causes – including more than 800 Wildlife Trust projects. This vital funding has enabled Wildlife Trusts to save thousands of hectares of

For the first time ever, chicks from Wales’ only Sandwich tern colony have been given special “flags” to help birdwatchers track their movements. Each flag, fixed to a ring on the bird’s leg, has a unique code that can be read through a spotting scope, helping us learn more about these seabirds. northwaleswildlifetrust.org.uk/news/ ringing-changes

3 Going batty The largest ever survey of Alderney’s bat population has revealed the island’s first live brown long-eared bat. For Alderney Wildlife Trust’s ‘Bat Week’, visiting experts trained residents in survey techniques while conducting an island-wide study. They also found five pipistrelle roosts, including a maternity roost, and a natterer’s bat. alderneywildlife.org/bat-week-2019

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We bet you didn’t know... Winter may be a time for hibernation and snoozing through the coldest months. But snails put the likes of dormice and hedgehogs in the shade, sometimes sleeping for up to three years.

Wild birthday parties

MICHAEL LORD

A wild wonderland is taking shape at Carlton Marshes.

RESERVES

Watch Carlton transform With all of the major earthworks now complete at Carlton Marshes, it’s already possible to see Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s vision of a 1,000 acres of wildness taking shape. The newly created network of pools, scrapes and dykes are already humming with life, attracting large numbers of wading birds and supporting everything from invertebrates to otters. Trust volunteer John Lord has been taking photos and flying a drone over

Thank you

the marshes regularly to document the landscape-scale changes and you can play spot the difference by watching the footage here: suffolkwildlifetrust.org/ news/spot-difference Of course, you could always just visit yourself to see how your membership and donations, along with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund has helped create an internationally important refuge for nature. The new visitor centre and trails will open in May.

Are you looking for a birthday party with a difference? Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Wild Birthday Parties are available at all our Wild Learning Centres across the county. With a range of fun-packed themes and activities to choose from, there is something for everyone. Wild Birthday Parties are available at weekends all year round and on weekday evenings April to October. Recommended for children 18 months to 11 years. Find out more suffolkwildlifetrust.org/wildbirthday-parties or email birthdayparties@suffolkwildlifetrust.org

Wild technology

LEGACIES

Cynthia Baron Colin Belcher Alasdair Branch Donald Buxton David Cash John Davis Margaret Edge Jane Forbes Philip Goodright Derek Goodwin Eveline Hastings 20

David Stuart Hepburn Jacqueline Humphreys John & Elsa Irving Roy Kemp John Lane Giles & Anthea Langton Gillian Mann Mary Myatt

Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

Alan Ream Terence Rice Susan Roach John Rye Elsie Smart William Smith Eleanor Stinson Sonya Strutt Edith Joan Smith Susan Strasser Eileen Suckling

Mary Talmadge Klaus Tormann Vanni Treves Susan Turner Patricia Ward Lillian & Donald Watling Rosemary Wilson William Whiting Edelgard Woods

Thermal imaging cameras are being used at the Trust’s reserves including Carlton and Trimley Marshes, Captain's Wood and Rendlesham Forest to help create a better picture of wildlife activity during nocturnal hours. One of the cameras was funded by the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB, the other by Water, Mills & Marshes: The Broads Partnership Scheme. Thank you!

GOOGLE IMAGES / JOHN FERGUSON

We are grateful to the families of the following friends of the Trust who have recently remembered us in their Will or through an In memoriam donation.


WE NEED TO TAKE ACTION

NPL ALAMY

FOCUS ON Insects

Take the insect pledge By working together we can change the future of insects and in doing so, our planet.

Taking action for insects A new report commissioned by an alliance of Wildlife Trusts, concludes that drastic declines in insect numbers are having far-reaching consequences for both wildlife and people. The report, Insect Declines and Why They Matter, by invertebrate expert, Dave Goulson, Professor of Biology at the University of

Insects are dying out up to 8 times faster than larger animals Sussex, highlights the severe effects of the declines on insect-eating birds, bats, and fish, and the cost to society due to broken ecosystems. Professor Goulson, said: “Insects make up the bulk of known species on earth and are integral to the functioning of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, performing vital roles such as pollination, seed dispersal and nutrient cycling. They are also food for numerous larger animals, including birds, bats, fish, amphibians and lizards. If we don’t stop

FUTURE

Insect declines and why they matter Professor Dave Goulson, FRES

the decline of our insects there will be profound consequences for all life on earth.” While wild bees and pollinators are declining, these trends are mirrored in many other invertebrate species. Professor Goulson added: “Of serious concern is the little we know about the fate of many of the more obscure invertebrates that are also crucial to healthy ecosystems.” “What we do know however, is that the main causes of decline include habitat loss and fragmentation, and the overuse of pesticides. Wild insects are routinely exposed to complex cocktails of toxins which can cause either death or disorientation and weakened immune and digestive systems.” The report concludes: “The consequences are clear; if insect declines are not halted, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will collapse, with profound consequences for human wellbeing.” The study follows the publication of The State of Nature 2019 report, which revealed that 35% of all species studied in England have declined, with 13% of

Commissioned by the South West

The full report, as well as the Trust’s response to the State of Nature 2019 report, can be seen at suffolkwildlifetrust.org

all species threatened with extinction. In response, Suffolk Wildlife Trust has called for a significant reduction in the use of pesticides, particularly the insecticides that are destroying the very creatures we depend on for the health of our natural world. Julian Roughton, Suffolk Wildlife Trust CEO said it was important that gardens, parks, urban areas and farmed countryside are managed in a more insect-friendly way. He added, “The positive message from this report is that we know why our pollinators and other insects are dying and that concerted action from government, local authorities, food growers and the public can reverse this unfolding disaster. By working together we can change the future for insects."

Wildlife Trusts

TAKE ACTION Suffolk Wildlife Trust is asking people to visit suffolkwildlifetrust.org/ action-insects and pledge to take two simple actions in your home or outside space that will make a difference. Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

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Sunrise on Westleton Heath Winner: Simply Suffolk category Amanda Burgess "This was taken at sunrise on Westleton Heath on a misty morning in August. I'd been on a walk the day before and decided to take a photo at this particular spot the next morning. The conditions were lovely but I had no idea the sun would rise up as it did just behind the tree to create such an atmospheric shot."

Picture perfect Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s annual photography competition has provided another feast of wildlife wonders. BY MICHAEL STRAND

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Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20


PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION

T

hey say a photograph has the power of a thousand words and in many ways, this is true. One image can depict exactly what we need to know without anything having to be explained. People connect with images instantly and emotionally, especially it seems when the subject depicts the wilder side of life. TELLING A STORY Capturing a sense of energy, fragility or the interconnectedness of living things, is a special moment in a wildlife photographers’ journey. However, this year’s Eastern Angles category winner entitled ‘Kinetic energy’ by Nick Hurst demonstrates the impact such a moment can have on its audience: ‘The power…!’ exclaimed several judges in unison as the pair of rutting fallow deer flashed up on the screen.

NEW TALENTS We are proud at how the photography competition develops each year, both in quality and in breadth. This year saw the introduction of the Trust’s 'Wild Skills in Ipswich' photography course, which introduced a cohort of budding 11 to 16-year-olds in to the world of wildlife photography. Over the year, each participant developed skills and gained knowledge through the mentorship of Ipswich Learning Officer Lucy Shepherd and professional wildlife photographer Kevin Sawford, culminating in a portfolio of celebratory images. As ever, we would like to say thank you to everyone who contributed work to the competition and we look forward to seeing the photographic fruits of your wild encounters next year.

Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

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RIGHT Among the grass Winner: 12-18yrs category Alfred Roberts "I was out one summer evening by a few fields near Bury St Edmunds when I spotted this brown hare in the distance. I quickly but carefully laid on my stomach to be at eye level with the hare. While the sun was beginning to set I took this shot through the grass."

BELOW Life in the sand Winner: Unearthed category Barbara Moore "I sat on Dunwich Common for ages with my 16mm macro lense. My eye naturally goes to small objects and I just love watching these wasps."

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Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20


PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION

L RAL OVE NER: WIN LIC PUB E VOT

ABOVE On it like a car bonnet Winner: On the doorstep category Le-Jhel Williams "This bush-cricket would not move from the bonnet on my car. I even drove off only to find it was still there when I pulled up in my drive. I never had the confidence to enter a competition before so this is a double first!"

LEFT Sedge warbler at Hen Reedbeds Winner: Under 12 category Tess Easterbrook

"I took this photo when we were at Hen Reedbeds – we had already seen some bearded tits but I didn't manage to get a photo of them. But I was pleased with this photo of a sedge warbler."

Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

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L RAL OVE NER: WIN GE'S JUD ICE CHO

ABOVE Common darter Winner: Strictly come wildlife category Andrew Neal "I spotted this common darter perched in a nice clear area by a ditch beside a river in Essex. I swapped to my macro lens and had time to compose the shot so that a solitary buttercup on the ground added some nice colour to the background."

RIGHT Hanging out to dry Winner: Comedy category Alan Leeks "This opportunity came about simply by having a feeder with fat balls near the washing line in my back garden – simple as that!"

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Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20


PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION

RIGHT Kinetic energy Winner: Eastern angles category Nick Hurst "This image was taken at first light in ancient woodland on a large estate in Suffolk and I had built myself a small hide out of fallen branches and leaves. I deliberately chose a slow shutter speed of 1/25 sec at F2.8 using a 400mm lens with what limited light was available. I decided to convert this image to monochrome in Photoshop as I felt this added to the overall sense of drama."

PHOTOGRAPHY

MENTORSHIP SCHEME Wild Skills in Ipswich for young people aged 11-16 February 16 Christchurch Park May 10 Chantry Park July 12 Holywells Park October 11 Bridge Wood (Orwell Country Park) 10am-12.30pm. £10 per child for courses booked individually, £35 for all four courses.

A set of four wildlife photography sessions. Join us with your smart phones, tablet or camera to learn how to capture urban wildlife at its best. Build skills and gain knowledge through the mentorship of professional wildlife photographer Kevin Sawford.

ABOVE Grass snake Winner: Out of sight Suffolk Guy Pilkington

Bumblebee Winner: Wild Skills Ipswich Andrew Mitchell

SPONSORED BY:

"There’s a spot I know where grass snakes can be quite active at certain times of the year. Despite timing my visit to coincide with sunset I still put this image down to 99% luck."

Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

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threat A sizeable

to wildlife

Ben McFarland, Head of Conservation at Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

The building of Sizewell C will have a potentially profound and negative impact on the county’s wildlife. Suffolk Wildlife Trust is committed to securing the very best outcomes for wildlife BEN McFARLAND

S

izewell Belts Nature Reserve is a special place. Right up to and within the shadow of the Sizewell A and B stations, exists an area of tranquillity and wildness; an integral part of the Suffolk coast. It’s a reserve that helps to provide a critical link for wildlife between Minsmere to the north and the nature reserves scattered along the Alde and Ore to the South. Suffolk Wildlife Trust has taken care of Sizewell Belts SSSI for many years on behalf of EDF, the landowners, and our tenure is something we can be proud of. Thanks to our management, it is one of the finest wet grassland and fen areas in Suffolk, with areas of fen plant communities that are of national importance. Many of the quieter areas are especially noted for their wildflowers including four species of orchid and classic marsh species such as ragged 28

Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

robin, bogbean and lady’s smock. It’s also a stronghold for dragonflies and a refuge for wintering birds such as snipe. UNDERVALUED AND UNDER THREAT I remember years ago an amusing moment when we took EDF around the reserve. Some claimed the reserve wasn’t used by Minsmere’s breeding marsh harrier. Seconds later, and with almost comic timing, a pair of marsh harrier flew over Goose Hills and started hunting in front us! For me, that’s Sizewell Belts in a nutshell: a reserve full of surprises, whose role in providing wider connectivity for wildlife across the landscape is hugely undervalued. Sadly, despite its importance for wildlife and the fact that it is ‘protected’ as a SSSI, the proposed Sizewell C development is likely to have a profound and significant impact on the reserve. We

all know there is an urgent need to de-carbonise our economy, to shift away from fossil fuels and create more sustainable sources of energy. Clearly, the government’s plan to develop new nuclear power stations is part of this bigger picture, but whatever your personal view on nuclear power, the planned Sizewell C development is likely to be extremely detrimental to wildlife and this special, wild place. To quote the American actor, Ed Begley Junior, “I don’t understand why when we destroy something created by man we call it vandalism, but when we destroy something created by nature we call it progress.” INSUFFICIENT MITIGATION Suffolk Wildlife Trust, along with our environmental partners such as the RSPB and Natural England, has always taken the stance that it is best to work with EDF during the consultation stages, to influence through dialogue, rather than throwing stones from outside of the room. Personally, I’ve spent eight years working with EDF, challenging them

SNIPE: ADRIAN DAVIES NATUREPL.COM


SIZEWELL C

OUR BIGGEST CONCERNS 1 Sizewell Belts SSSI

We believe well over 12 hectares (twelve football pitches) of the SSSI will be lost forever. Wildliferich and exceedingly rare fenland habitat will be covered in concrete. EDF consider that any other impacts outside of this area will be ‘temporary’. We don’t agree, as delicate fen habitat, impacted for up to ten years of the development period, is unlikely to ever recover. Furthermore, there is uncertainty about the response of groundwater and surface water once construction begins. Very rare plants could disappear as a result of only small alterations in water levels.

Why when we destroy something created by man do we call it vandalism, but when we destroy something created by nature we call it progress?

2 Bats

We are concerned about many species but none more so than bats. The area is extremely rich in bat diversity with nationally significant populations of the rare barbastelle bat. In our view, the true impact of the development on this group of species is not being fully recognised and therefore mitigated. Bats locally rely on wild areas to connect populations as well as reach roost and hibernation sites across Sizewell and Minsmere. These routes will be almost entirely cut off with significant impacts on populations in the long term.

almost invariably err on the side of less damaging outcomes for wildlife, despite the sensitivity of the habitats and species involved. As we get closer to the sharp end of the development proposals and to formal submission, our concerns for our wildlife have only increased, as it has become clearer at Sizewell B in our view, the impacts appear not to be fully reflected casting doubt on the proposed mitigation and compensation being sufficient.

3 Birds

Ten years of noise and visual disturbance could have a profound impact on rare breeding and migrant birds both on Sizewell SSSI and the RSPB’s Minsmere reserve. Whilst EDF have done work to mitigate and compensate impacts on marsh harrier, we believe there continues to be residual and unmitigated impact on birds.

SEA HOLLY: STEVE AYLWARD, NATTERER'S BAT: KIM TAYLOR, DUNLIN: ALAMY, DINGLE MARSHES: STEVE AYLWARD

about the predicted impacts on Suffolk’s wildlife. We’ve had some considerable success doing this, perhaps most notably with marsh harrier mitigation and the creation of new areas of land for wildlife. Throughout this time though, it’s always felt as though the impacts of the development have been, and continue to be, underplayed. Whenever there is uncertainty or ambiguity, conclusions

4 Coastal processes

The coastline in this area of Suffolk is incredibly complex and therefore it is very difficult to predict future impacts of putting in another power station in this area. It is possible it will increase localised erosion, impacting on rare dune habitat and the freshwater habitats behind these dunes. Furthermore, who will shoulder the burden of cost, if erosion does increase in the future?

FIGHTING FOR WILDLIFE Our role at the Trust is to call out these impacts on wildlife, we will only be happy if every significant impact is fully mitigated and compensated. If this doesn't happen, then we will object. Sizewell Belts may be a nature reserve of surprises, but our unerring commitment to protect it and Suffolk’s wildlife, shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody. Find out more For more information on our position and our concerns please go to our website suffolkwildlifetrust.org

Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

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JOHN FERGUSON

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Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20


Learning to

LOVE and PROTECT

The natural world is in trouble. While taking action now through conservation and restoration is critical, the future of wildlife and wild spaces is ultimately in the hands of our children. BY SARA HOLMAN

Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

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DISCONNECTED But alongside these tangible negatives for the natural world, there is a more insidious, but potentially equally damaging, threat to the UK’s wildlife. Put simply, it could be best described as a feeling of disconnection, a sense of separateness between ourselves and the eco-systems around us. We see it in a lack of understanding about nature, in the scrubbing out of wild words from dictionaries and also in an unwillingness to take action for nature. In the words of Sir David Attenborough: “No one will protect what they don’t care about and no one will care about what they have never experienced.” In other words, we don’t protect what we don’t know and value. Research to date has focused on children’s disconnection from nature. The results of a 2015 YouGov poll, commissioned by The Wildlife Trusts, highlighted a gradual loss of contact with nature during childhood. Despite recognition of the importance of nature in childhood and an acknowledgment of the health and social benefits derived from contact with the natural world for people of all ages, the survey suggested a generation of children is growing up removed, both physically

Suffolk Wildlife Trust wants to put the wild back into the child.

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Wild Suffolk | Autumn 2019

and emotionally, from the natural world. In addition, other studies have shown that children’s freedom to roam and spend time outdoors has also reduced and with it their opportunities to discover wildlife. Instead, young people stay close to home, with just one in ten playing in wild places. OUR VISION At Suffolk Wildlife Trust we have been developing a vision to create a wilder Suffolk, where everyone is doing more for nature. This has been underpinned by a five-year plan, which sets out the detail around key actions needed to transform the natural world and how we experience it. At the heart of it all is the realisation that if we are serious about living in a world that is wilder, happier and healthier, if we want to inspire and support action, it is necessary to first address the apparent disconnect between young people and the natural world. Research indicates that higher levels of connection with nature in both children and adults are related to a higher likelihood of those children and adults demonstrating attitudes and behaviours which have a positive impact on wildlife. In other words, people will care more and do more to help if they feel connected to nature. The challenge for us as a Trust is to effect this increased connection

A generation of children is growing up removed, both physically and emotionally, from the natural world

JOHN FERGUSON

L

ast year’s State of Nature report presented a series of alarming statistics, painting a picture of widespread decline in the abundance and distribution of the UK’s wildlife since 1970. The causes were tangled and varied: the intensification of agriculture, the impact of climate change, the proliferation of pollutants and the fragmentation of habitat due to the slow creep of urbanisation.


A WILDER FUTURE

Nature connection

LAPWING : AGAMI PHOTO AGENCY DREAMSTIME, NATUREPL.COM / ANDY HAY RSPB

Nature connection goes beyond simple exposure to nature and encompasses how we think about nature, how we feel about nature and how we relate to nature. An internationally recognised scientific expression (the correct term being ‘nature connectedness’), it varies between people and cannot be directly observed. The Nature Connectedness Research Group based at University of Derby aims to understand people’s connection to nature and to create everyday interventions to improve nature connectedness and bring about the associated benefits in wellbeing and pro-nature behaviours. We are working with researchers at University of Derby to develop evaluation methodologies which measure the extent to which people’s connection to nature changes as a result of their engagement with us.

to nature in children, young people and adults and to support them in taking action for wildlife where they live. Over the course of our five-year plan, we will foster a connection to nature and sense of place through the opportunities we offer children to discover, explore, learn and play in wild spaces every year, increasing a new generation of children’s contact with the natural world and putting the wild back into childhood. We want children to explore the natural world where they live and to develop a personal connection with nature from an early age, a connection that stays and grows with them as they move into and through adulthood. FOR EVERY GENERATION We recognise, however, that while the future of wildlife in the UK (and beyond) relies on nature connection in children, nature connection in young people and adults is critical to addressing the

present state of nature. Research indicates that there is a sharp dip in connection with nature in the teenage years with a slow recovery to the average adult level at around the age of 30. Further research is needed to identify the factors associated with this disconnect but it is likely that developmental and situational factors play a role. Over the next five years, the Trust will extend our provision of targeted activities for teenagers and young adults in order to attempt to mitigate the teenage disconnect from nature and to facilitate a reconnection with nature into adulthood. Integral to our five-year plan is our belief that wildlife should be part of everyday life for everyone. We want nature to be more than a day out or a commodity, the perception of which is that it Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

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can be experienced only on an organised activity requiring specialist skills and equipment. Over the course of the next five years, we will create more opportunities for children, young people and adults to get close to nature on our reserves. However, in providing increased opportunities to engage with nature with us, we also value and celebrate the commonplace – the ordinary, rather than the extraordinary – encounters with nature. It is this everyday nature – making daisy chains, walking barefoot in the grass, picking blackberries, playing conkers, climbing trees, jumping in piles of leaves, following snail trails, counting the spots on a ladybird, blowing dandelion clocks, chasing waves and searching the tideline for shells to take home – that creates a sense of being attuned, not just to nature but to time and place. It is our firm belief that this connection to nature, time and place will inspire attitudes and actions which will, in turn, create our vision of a wilder Suffolk where everyone is doing more for nature.

Our vision is a wilder Suffolk where everyone is doing more for nature

Over the next five years, we will continue to build on our structured programme of learning activities providing opportunities for everyone from babies to adults.

Wild Babies Wild Babies is the only outdoor parent and baby group of its kind, offering weekly sessions for parents and carers with children aged 3-18 months at Carlton Marshes, Lackford Lakes and Redgrave & Lopham Fen.

Getting toadally connected.

THE WILDLIFE TRUSTS

JOHN FERGUSON

Wild Tots is an outdoor toddler

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Young Wardens at Lackford Lakes.


ADOBE STOCK, JOHN FERGUSON, ALAMY

A WILDER FUTURE

Go Wild with Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Wild Tots

Wild Kids

Come rain or shine, these weekly sessions for parents and carers with children aged 18 months – 5 years at all our Wild Learning Centres and in Christchurch Park and Holywells Park in Ipswich and monthly sessions at Knettishall Heath. We also offer outreach Wild Tots sessions in Stowmarket and will continue to explore locations around the county for those who are unable to access our reserves.

Our Wild Kids programme provides opportunities for children aged 5-11 years and families, including holiday activities, birthday parties, family Forest School sessions and weekend wildlife clubs. As well as catering for school visits, we have developed family learning opportunities in which parents and carers and children can discover and explore the natural world together.

Wild Teens For Adults Wild Teens is our programme of activities for 11-16 year olds, including monthly Young Wardens sessions at Arger Fen, Carlton Marshes, Foxburrow Farm, Knettishall Heath and in Holywells Park in Ipswich, teen workshops and courses, including wildlife photography mentorships enabling young people to work alongside an award-winning photographer to build a portfolio of work over the course of a year.

For adults, our network of local volunteer-led wildlife groups organise a diverse programme of walks, talks and wildlife activities across Suffolk. We also offer a variety of courses for adults, including natural history, green woodworking and art and craft courses, on weekdays (including a six week evening course) and at weekends, as well as accredited Forest School and Wild Beach training.

Connection to nature, time and place will inspire attitudes and actions which will, in turn, create our vision of a wilder Suffolk

Sara Holman is Head of Learning for Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

Are you passionate about inspiring young people to become the future custodians of the natural world. Visit suffolkwildlifetrust. org/volunteer to join our energetic band of volunteers and help lead school groups and learning activities. Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

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WILD about the town

RED DEER: TERRY WHITTAKER, KINGFISHER: LAURENT GESLIN/NATUREPL.COM

It’s not only pigeons and people that live in concrete jungles. Amy-Jane Beer reveals the exciting variety of wildlife that not only survives but thrives in our more urban habitats.

Red and fallow deer live in managed herds in some urban parks, but wild deer also roam our suburbs. We need green spaces in our towns and cities to create a Nature Recovery Network that helps wildlife spread and thrive and connects people with nature. 36

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DISCOVER DISCOVER URBAN URBAN WILDNESS WILDNESS

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orldwide, about 55% of people live in cities or towns, and that figure is set to rise to 66% by 2050. The UK is ahead of the curve: as far back as 1950, urbanites accounted for 79% of the populace, and by 2030 it’ll be 92%. The urban landscape offers humans every convenience – providing us with roosts and dens (though you might call it housing), optimal foraging opportunities (retail, if you must), efficient means of getting about, of interacting socially, of rearing families. They are an ideal human habitat in many ways, except perhaps for the loss of close contact with nature. This contact, we are beginning to recognise, is vital. Happily, it is surprisingly easy to encourage wildlife into urban areas. In fact some species have been exploiting the opportunities of manmade environments for generations, and others are on the rise. Partly this is a result of increasing pressure on habitats in the wider countryside, but it’s also because some towns and cities are making space for nature. GREEN OASES Many British townscapes have a surprising amount of green space. Gardens, parks, recreation areas, business parks, university campuses and other institutional grounds can all offer excellent habitat for everything from butterflies to bats, woodlice to wood mice, sparrows to swifts. Wild plants thrive too, invited or otherwise – there is no reason for anyone to grow up unfamiliar with daisies, dandelions, nettles, docks, and ivy or with trees such as planes, willows, holly and limes. These all bring their own retinues of invertebrates and birds, so that gardens, parks and even scrub-covered vacant lots and back alleys often literally thrum with life. You’d be mistaken for thinking urban wildlife was mostly small. Our largest terrestrial mammal, the red deer, lives wild a stone’s throw from central London. A November morning in Richmond Park can feel primordial, with rutting stags bellowing and clashing antlers, while locals jog and commuters hurry past wearing headphones. While red deer might not be glimpsed in built up areas of Suffolk, the sight of a muntjac jinking through gardens is certainly not unusual. The first and most conspicuous species to reclaim urbanised habitats are often commensals – species that thrive best alongside humans, including rats, house mice, house sparrows and feral pigeons. These may not be universally popular creatures, but a little bit of wildlife easily begets more. Just as ‘weeds’

Healthy populations of kingfishers in urban areas such as central London, Manchester, Aylesbury, Coventry, Leeds and Preston show the important role waterways have in greening our towns and cities.

bring invertebrates, which in turn feed bats and birds, mice are food for foxes and owls. Where there is ivy, there is food for bees and cover for birds, even in winter. Where there are sparrows there may be sparrowhawks. Where there are pigeons, peregrines can thrive – the pair that live in my home city of York have bred among the ornate stone grotesques and finials of the Minster, and their lethal raids provide an appropriately gothic spectacle over the often-unsuspecting heads of shoppers and tourists. In Ipswich a pair of peregrines can be seen on the Mill, looking out for feral pigeons, while another pair can be found on the Orwell bridge. Another bird that has taken to manmade

Where there are sparrows, there may be sparrowhawks. Where there are pigeons, peregrines can thrive structures is the kittiwake – a dainty gull with an eponymous ‘kitti-waaaayyk’ call. The colony that has made its home fully eight kilometres inland on Newcastle quayside has become a local cause célèbre, despite the liberal splatter of guano that accumulates on local landmarks such as the Tyne Bridge and Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. Unlike larger gulls, kittiwakes are not scavengers. No chips, kebabs or cigarette butts for them. The Newcastle birds still hunt far out to sea, spending 10 hours or more away from their young and returning to their artificial cliff ledges with crops full of sandeels. A webcam installed by Durham Wildlife Trust attracts thousands of viewers, who follow the annual drama of nesting, rearing and fledging. WATER BRINGS LIFE Water is a magnet and a corridor for a huge range of urban wildlife. Canals and ornamental ponds invite the solemn, stately presence of grey herons, which may even nest in plain sight if trees of adequate stature are available. None of our cities yet rival Amsterdam, which is home to more than 800 herons, but there is potential. The electric blue and orange flicker of kingfishers may seem like the stuff of leafy idylls, but improvements in water quality and fish Wild Suffolk | Winter 2019/20

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My favourite urban spectacle Trust members from across the country share their annual, wild urban highlights.

SMALL SKIPPER ON RAGWORT: ROSS HODDINOTT, LIME HAWK-MOTH: ROGER HATCLIFFE, AUTHOR: LYNDON SMITH

Cheerful ragwort flowers attract butterflies and other insects.

Ragwort “Ragwort is known by many names, including stinking willie, benweed and St Jameswort. It’s commonly viewed as a weed and a pest, but I love it for the important role it plays in our ecosystem, providing a home and food to at least 77 insect species, 30 of which eat only ragwort and nothing else!” Qasim McShane, The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country Brown hare “There’s wildlife we’re used to seeing in urban settings, such as foxes and squirrels – and then there are some surprises. One morning, I saw what I first thought was a rabbit near my tram stop in Nottingham. A closer look revealed it to be a brown hare – a creature associated with wide open countryside – wandering unphased up the street!” Hattie Lavender, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

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TERRY WHITTAKER

Stag beetle “Stag beetles are such an exciting part of summer. Hearing their whirring, clumsy flight over the garden or balcony on a warm evening is so atmospheric. I always rush out to see their amazing ‘antlers’. I’m lucky to live in south London, which is a hotspot for these otherwise declining giants, so I try to create as much habitat as possible for them.” Rachel Dowse, London Wildlife Trust

As cities have cleaned up their waterways, grey herons have returned. Today, the birds loiter in many London parks, watching passers-by for handouts, and form bustling breeding colonies in park trees.

Waxwing

populations mean these glittering birds can now be seen flickering along waterways in cities such as London and Bristol. In Bury St Edmunds, even where the River Lark has been broken by concrete sluices and flood defences, its flows have been reconnected by the blue thread of the kingfisher's flight. A similarly heartening story is that of the otter. In the 1970s and 1980s, these sinuous aquatic carnivores were creatures of near mythic scarcity. Now they can be seen in or close to the centres of Edinburgh, Leeds, Exeter and Winchester. HOME FOR HEDGEHOGS Perhaps the best loved of all urban wildlife is a species that visits our homes without causing any inconvenience and often without apparent fear. Hedgehogs have undergone a catastrophic decline over recent decades, but some urban populations are bucking the trend, thanks largely to sympathetic homeowners and projects such as Suffolk Wildlife Trust's campaign to make

Waxwings are immaculately coiffed rockstar birds sure to draw the wildlife paparazzi


DISCOVER DISCOVER URBAN URBAN WILDNESS WILDNESS

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10 great cities for urban wildlife 1 Inverness On the edge of the Moray Firth, ‘The City in the Highlands’ is great for wildlife. If you’re lucky you could even spot a bottlenose dolphin. 2 Glasgow The city’s rivers hold wild and watery wonders, from dippers and water voles to otters! 3 Belfast In the heart of the city, Bog Meadows reserve attracts abundant birds, from warblers in spring to winter thrushes in autumn. 4 Newcastle A colony of kittiwakes has swapped coastal cliffs for buildings and bridge ledges. 5 Liverpool The Mersey estuary is a haven for wildlife, hosting internationally important numbers of wading birds and wildfowl. 6 Sheffield A green corridor of parks and reserves with woodlands, wetlands and hedgerows carries wildlife through the city. 7 Birmingham This city boasts more miles of canal than Venice, which

Ipswich the UKs most hedgehog-friendly town. Gardens make superb hedgehog habitat provided they are accessible (a 13cm square hole in a fence or wall is sufficient), and contain sufficient cover and invertebrate food. Small slugs, beetles and grubs make up the bulk of the diet, and this further endears the ‘hedgepig’ to gardeners. Foxes are particularly well suited to city living. Adaptable and opportunistic, they have taken to denning under sheds and decking; sunning themselves on shed and garage roofs; making use of roads and rail verges, canal paths, cycleways and footpaths to cover distances more efficiently; and foraging among bins and outside takeaways. Town foxes are often less nocturnal than rural ones, and less wary of people, which gives them the impression of being more abundant, though in truth they only account for about 13% of the total fox population. Nor are they any bigger, or any more or less healthy – rural foxes are just as likely to be afflicted by mange, but less likely to be photographed. Some foxes appear to transition between urban and rural habitats, taking advantage of each in different ways. IN NEED OF A HELPING HAND But, it’s not all good news. Some formerly abundant urban birds are in trouble. The house sparrow, once considered too common to even be counted on

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draw dragonflies and damselflies right into the centre. 8 Cardiff This metropolis is home to over half of the UK’s bat species, including the rare lesser horseshoe. 9 Bristol One of the UK’s best cities for urban wildlife, the nearby Avon Gorge is home to peregrine falcons and ravens. 10 London England’s capital is full of wildlife. Stag beetles roam the parks and gardens, deer patrol parklands and herons stalk the Serpentine.

bird surveys, has declined massively as an urban bird, nowhere more so than London, where a 98% crash in population in the 1990s led to questions being asked in parliament. You’ll still be lucky to see one in the capital, but at least the decline has gone some way to rehabilitate the image of a species regarded as too numerous in years gone by. Starlings have declined markedly too, but are still common enough that their cheery, irrepressible whistles and cover versions of sirens, car alarms and text alerts can still be heard on many city streets in spring, while winter flocks boosted by birds from the continent put on displays of such grandeur they literally stop traffic. Perhaps the best known urban murmuration location in the UK is Brighton, where a mixed flock of around 40,000 gathers to roost on the scaffold of the derelict West Pier. Waxwings are another winter spectacle sure to draw the wildlife paparazzi. These big, buff, immaculately coiffed rockstar birds arrive from Scandinavia in numbers that vary from year to year, depending on the severity of winter and the availability of food. It’s worth planting a rowan, cotoneaster or a hawthorn in an urban garden, just for the chance of a waxwing irruption alighting on your patch. They don’t usually stick around longer than it takes to strip the fruit, but a sighting will give you wildlife bragging rights for at least a year.

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Amy-Jane Beer is a North Yorkshirebased biologist and author specialising in natural history and conservation. She contributes to The Guardian and BBC Wildlife magazine.

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A legacy for

Suffolk's wildlife secure a better future for wildlife. Legacy gifts make this possible. Indeed they have been instrumental in every nature reserve purchase in recent years. A gift in your Will to Suffolk Wildlife Trust will be kept separate from the Trust’s day to day finances to be used for projects which have a direct and lasting impact on the county’s wildlife.

Thank you

To find out how a gift in your Will could help Suffolk's wildlife, please contact Christine Luxton 01473 890089

suffolkwildlifetrust.org

LACKROD LAKES: STEVE AYLWARD ALEX HYDE NATUREPL.COM / STEVE AYLWARD

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he extraordinary generosity of Trust members and friends who remembered Suffolk Wildlife Trust in their Will has protected some of the county’s most inspiring natural places, for people to cherish for generations to come. Buying or enlarging our nature reserves is one of the most powerful ways in which we

Profile for Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Wild Suffolk  

The membership magazine from Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

Wild Suffolk  

The membership magazine from Suffolk Wildlife Trust.