Suffolk Coast - Rare Habitats and Wildlife
Saturday 9th - Friday 15th September 2017 - £845 (£200 deposit)
For this six-night holiday we stay in stunning accommodation at Chantry Barn - a beautiful 18th century converted barn in the centre of Orford village on the Suffolk coast. The village is a picturesque base for us to set out for a days work on a local RSPB reserve, or with a local community group, all a short distance away through beautiful landscapes.
Wildlife Surveys and other work.
The activites this week have been agreed with partners to include the following activities, although remember to stay flexible as we bow to the imposition of the weather: we will be surveying small mammals through the use of live traps (these allow us to capture animals to gather data and then release them unharmed) on Martlesham Common Nature Reserve; surveying one of the local beaches for the national Marine Conservation Society work; studying the invertebrates that live in the muddy lagoons of Havergate Island; surveying for the elusive water vole at Boyton and Hollesley; and possible additional work managing bracken and/or removing birch if time allows.
Find out more detail about this holiday below.
The commute to work in the morning on board one of the local boats with the wind blowing and sun shining.
A good meal in one of the wonderful local pubs after a day outdoors.
Standing at the end of the shingle spit, preparing for a beach survey and feeling like you’re standing at the edge of the world.
Wild Days work in partnership with wildlife organisations. We combine valuable research with practical conservation. On this holiday we're working with both RSPB on their reserves in Suffolk and also supporting the research work of The Mammal Society and the Marine Conservation Society.
Orford Ness, managed by the National Trust, is an internationally important nature reserve. It is the largest vegetated shingle spit in Europe. This delicate and sensitive habitat supports rare plants, birds and invertebrates. These include sea lavender and sea aster, peregrines, and one of our favourite birds, the oyster catcher. It’s also home to a huge population of brown hares who have few predators and are remarkably tame. There are great opportunities to see this wonderful native species close up. Orford Ness is also known for its fascinating 20th-century military history.
We’ll be working with the RSPB again in 2017 - work will involve sampling for the invertebrates that support birdlife in the lagoons on Havergate island, an area famous as a breeding ground for avocets and terns, looking for signs of water voles and small mammals, and helping with some habitat management in the area around Orford, including some classic inland wetland areas of tall reeds and rivers.
Havergate Island is Suffolk’s only island. It's in the river Ore and separated from the sea by Orford Ness. It is usually only accessible at restricted times and by special arrangement. At this time of year it is a haven for large populations of ducks and wading birds. We will spend time carrying out a specific survey of the lagoons, collecting and analysing mud samples from the shallow lagoons to assess the abundance and make-up of invertebrate communities. This allows RSPB scientists to monitor the quality of the habitat for waders and informs management of this important natural area.
Martlesham Common Nature Reserve
Supporting the local community and The Mammal Society we will collect data to inform local management plans and to update the National Mammal Database. The national database compiles records of all mammal species in the UK. Little is known of the small mammal populations on the reserve so our survey will provide data through the use of specialist live traps that ensure the animals' well-being so that they can be released back into the wild after data has been collected. Traps are prepared one day, and left overnight for inspection first thing in the morning. After training, everyone will be involved in carefully handling species such as shrews and voles in order to assess their gender and health.
If we still have time during the week we may well roll up our sleeves for a morning clearing small birch trees encroaching into the wetland habitat. They are easy to remove with hand tools, but if left unchecked will start to dry out this sensitive and valuable habitat.
And finally, we're always curious about what's around anywhere. We never can resist venturing out into the night or early dawn with light traps (for moths), bat-detectors and binoculars to see what else is about.
These activities will take place throughout the holiday, with training given in identifying species and their indicators, and in the use of equipment.
As well as our own leaders, we’ll work with experts from our partner conservation organisations. All field training in the necessary conservation and research skills and techniques will be given as part of the holiday and you do not need any special skills. Everyone can take part and there are no age limits whatsoever. We'll teach you the ability to identify animals and indications of their presence, such as tracks. We'll also show how to survey, capture and release small mammals.
None! You don't need to be an expert, or have special skills – this is an opportunity for everyone to get involved in high-value wildlife conservation and research.
We’ll be staying in a collection of cottages that make up the beautiful Chantry Barn in the heart of Orford. Recently refurbished, this 18th century barn is ideally located for evening strolls in the village and along the river. It's a stone's throw from Orford Castle and, a short walk to any of Orford's great selection of pubs and restaurants.
A comfortable room of your own
Bedrooms are spacious and are all individual single-occupancy (doubles or twins are available on request). Reception rooms are plentiful and there’s a fabulous kitchen and dining area. There's plenty of space for socialising, or taking some time out in peace. We’re right next door to one of Orford's three great pubs.
This area lies within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The area is especially rich in wildlife habitats and famed for its superb food. The AONB covers 155 square miles of tranquil and unspoilt landscape including wildlife-rich estuaries, ancient heaths, windswept shingle beaches and historic towns and villages. The Suffolk Cast is home to some of the UK’s finest food producers and restaurants and blessed with a broad range of quality local produce. This includes smoked fish, Suffolk ham and pork, hand-picked asparagus and strawberries, cheese, honey and jams - truly a taste sensation for all foodies.
Together, Orford Ness and Havergate form a National Nature Reserve. The whole area is one of Europe's largest vegetated shingle habitats - a rare and extremely fragile type of habitat.
As well as its rich natural heritage, Orford Ness has a remarkable 20th-century history. You’ll have the opportunity to find out more about its time as a secret military site used to test missiles for atomic weapons – they’ve even got one on display in an old hangar. Across the shingle are several strange and ghostly buildings, once used for blast testing and now standing as crumbling monuments to the Cold War era.
Orfordness lighthouse, a distinctive and pretty landmark, was decommissioned in 2013. Now it awaits its fate as longshore drift and erosion condemn it to fall eventually into the sea – a monument to the forces of nature.
Orford village has a deserved reputation as a place to stay: its picture postcard centre boasts three excellent pub restaurants and it’s the ideal starting point for windy walks along the river.
Dominating the skyline on the edge of the village is Orford Castle, managed by English Heritage, it also houses a fascinating museum of local life and artefacts within its unique polygonal tower. The castle is remarkably intact allowing us to explore from the basement, through the lower and upper halls to the roof where there are glorious views seaward to Orford Ness. Around the rooms is a maze of passages leading to the chapel, kitchen and other chambers in the turrets.
We're more than a bit obsessed with food at Wild Days – it's what we spend a lot of our time thinking about (apart from wildlife conservation, of course). Not only does it fuel our good work, but it's also a great medium for supporting local people and economies and experiencing the areas where we work. We're always on the lookout for the best and most interesting places to eat.
All meals included
As always on a Wild Days' holiday, meals are included in the holiday price: hearty breakfasts and glorious picnics of course, but also dinners. These will vary between jolly catered meals together at Chantry Barns and opportunities to try some of the more interesting local places like the Pump Street Bakery or one of the three great pub restaurants which are within easy walking distance.
We love our picnic lunches, prepared fresh each morning and, weather permitting, enjoyed al fresco in stunning scenery. Our locally roasted, freshly ground, fair-trade coffee is legendary. Where possible, it’s prepared on-site with gathered firewood and tastes fantastic after a morning in the field.
We are happy to cater for most diets, given a bit of notice. Please let us know when you book if you have any special dietary requirements.
To the North, and across the river Alde is Aldeburgh – another charming village set right on the long shingle beach from which freshly landed fish can be bought straight from the distinctive fishermen’s huts. Here are the largest of the great defensive Martello towers, built to resist a Napoleonic invasion. At the other end of the village lies Maggi Hambling’s giant stainless steel Scallop sculpture, dedicated to Benjamin Britten.
A short distance inland from Orford is Snape Maltings – now famous as an arts complex and for its world class concert hall. It's home to the internationally renowned Aldeburgh Festival, founded in 1948 by Benjamin Britten. There's more sculpture here, this time by Barbara Hepworth. She's one of our favourites - it’s no coincidence we have a holiday near St Ives as well!
Sutton Hoo is nearby, where a 7th-century ship burial was found. This archaeological site, now in the care of the National Trust, revealed some of the finest treasures in England. Seeing these in the British Museum is one thing, but visiting Sutton Hoo you can feel the atmosphere of those distant times.
ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURES
You have two options. We can meet you at Wickham Market railway station which is a 1 and 3/4 hour journey from London Liverpool Street. Or you can travel directly to Orford in your own vehicle.
- Meet at Wickham Market station at 11.45 on Saturday 9th September 2017. Trains run regularly from London Liverpool Street, changing at Ipswich – see times here. We will travel to Orford by car from here, a journey of approximately 20 minutes.
- Meet at Chantry Barns, Orford: 13.00 on Saturday 9th September 2017. Find map here.
Departure is at 10am on Friday 15th September 2017, with return travel to Wickham Market railway station by 11.00 if required.
You are responsible for satisfying all relevant UK entry and visa requirements. Wild Days is unable to assist you with this. Detailed information specific to your nationality or country of origin can be found here.
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