Sunday 16th - Saturday 22nd September 2018 | £950 (£250 deposit)
The mosaic patchwork of habitats that make up the Suffolk coast will be our home for this wonderfully varied week of conservation. The Suffolk Coast and Heaths is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with many beautiful landscapes within it, from salt marshes, to forests, to long empty beaches. Our base is at Aldeburgh, a beautiful town that sits facing the beach with the river Alde running at its back. Aldeburgh is famous for its fish and chip shop, shingle beach, 16th century timber-framed museum, and its welcoming atmosphere.
Our work in Suffolk is in collaboration with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) who have many reserves along the coast - we will be working at Minsmere, Havergate Island, Boyton & Hollesley Marshes, and others. Each day we will meet with one of their expert wardens, learning about the area, its history and the ways in which it is cared for. Work is undertaken to maintain and enhance habitats that are in short supply for particular species, ensuring these species continue to have a home as residents in the UK and as migrants. The East coast of England is an important stopping off point and breeding ground for many birds, as well as a permanent home for others and for important ground-dwelling and smaller animals.
We will be studying the vegetation, water vole populations, invertebrates that live in the muddy lagoons of Havergate Island, and the small mammals in the wetland areas behind the coast. You do not need to have any prior knowledge of this work as everything that you need to know will be taught as part of the holiday. You will learn how to capture and release small mammals, gathering data about these species for the Mammal Society before returning them to the wild. You will learn what it takes to maintain a huge array of habitats, and what impact some animals can have on them, both positive and negative. There will be many learning opportunities and time when we can all share our knowledge. And there will be time to explore together, setting moth traps to study and release in the morning, and looking for bats on the way out for dinner in the evening.
Aldeburgh is known as being the home of the famous composer, Benjamin Britten, who set up the world renowned Snape Concert Hall just down the road. Our base is at the home for visiting musicians to the concert venue and we are very grateful to Snape for making this available for us. Single rooms with en suite showers/toilets are standard on this holiday.
Find out more detail about this holiday below.
On this holiday we’re working with the RSPB on their reserves, undertaking habitat management tasks and species surveys. These will involve looking at invasive plants and testing ways to remove them, surveying for presence of water voles, and helping to manage woodland clearings to retain their characteristics. We may also look at deer browsing impacts, studying two areas to compare the establishment and growth of saplings, one where deer are allowed to roam and the other where they are excluded. And if the weather permits, we will visit Havergate Island, Suffolk’s only island, to investigate the salty lagoons that lie at the heart of this 2 mile-long home for breeding birds and over-wintering waders and wildfowl of all sorts.
As well as work for the RSPB, we will also be contributing to data collection for the Mammal Society and the Marine Conservation Society.
The Mammal Society
With the The Mammal Society we will be collecting data for the National Mammal Database (NMAP). This database compiles records of all mammal species in the UK to help understand the needs for protections and to understand the availability of prey species for other animals. To do this, we will capture small mammals in specialised live traps that ensure the animals’ well-being. All animals will be released unharmed back into the wild when we’ve collected data about them. After training, everyone will be involved in carefully handing species such as shrews and voles in order to assess their sex and health. We will also be using camera traps and footprint tunnels to capture images and prints of animals at night. Many mammals are most active after dark. You’ll also assess camera trap photos to ascertain the activities of some of our more elusive species.
The Marine Conservation Society is the UK’s leading charity for the protection of our seas, shores and wildlife. Beachwatch is their national beach cleaning and litter surveying programme and we will be contributing by doing a section of one of the local beaches. Each survey is of a 100m section of beach and the results are always fascinating, logging all litter that is found and categorising it by source. The findings are compiled in a national report and data is used to lead campaigns such as the plastic bag charging campaign and the fight against plastics in our oceans.
As well as our own leader, we’ll work with experts from the RSPB and the local area. We will provide all training in the necessary conservation and research techniques as part of the holiday. You do not need any special skills. We will teach you the ability to identify animals and indications of their presence, such as tracks. You will also be shown how to survey, capture and release small mammals safely. Everyone can take part and there are no age limits whatsoever.
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.
Our base will be at Elizabeth Court in the coastal town of Aldeburgh. Elizabeth Court is the accommodation building for visiting musicians at the nearby Snape Maltings arts complex. It comprises 16 self-contained units. All the rooms have separate toilet and wash basin, a kitchenette with the basics, and there is plenty of cupboard space, table and chairs. Bed linen and towels are provided but bring beach towels if you think you might like a dip at the beach. There is a very well-equipped communal kitchen and dining room with a door leading to the secluded garden, there is also a laundry room for your use. Upstairs there is a sitting room with digital TV. There is wi-fi connection.
A comfortable room of your own
Everyone will have their own en suite room. Meals will be prepared for you in the communal kitchen or we will head to one of the local pubs, or we might possibly even end up on the beach with fish and chips if the weather is kind.
The area is especially rich in wildlife habitats and famed for its superb food. This is a tranquil and unspoilt landscape of forests, heathlands, estuaries and marshes edged with magnificent shingle beaches.
Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
The designated area covers 403 square kilometres (c.155 sq miles) stretching from Kessingland in the north to the River Stour in the south. The unique character of this area is a product of its underlying geology, shaped by the effects of the sea and the interaction of people with the landscape. It is a mainly flat or gently rolling landscape.
In many places, and especially near the coast, habitats and landscape features lie in an intimate mosaic, providing great diversity in a small area. The AONB is largely farmland with other main components of the landscape being forestry plantations, low-lying freshwater marshes, intertidal estuaries, heathland, the coast, small villages and iconic coastal market towns. The area is probably best known for the particularly distinctive features of the coast and lowland heath which of course give the AONB its name. Where it joins the sea, the AONB consists of predominantly shingle beaches, often extensive in nature, and backed in places by sandy cliffs. The coastline is interrupted by five river estuaries (Blyth, Alde/Ore, Deben, Orwell and Stour) with extensive wildlife-rich intertidal areas of mudflat and saltmarsh. In some places, old estuary mouths have become blocked, creating large areas of brackish or freshwater marshland of significant wildlife value. Centuries old river walls were created to reclaim intertidal areas from the estuaries. These areas claimed from the sea are now important for agriculture. Many have boreholes that provide vital freshwater irrigation to the farmed hinterland. The area’s heathland, known locally as the Sandlings, and now much fragmented, follows the line of the coast. Large areas that were once Sandlings heath have been converted to farmland, planted as coniferous forests or developed for housing or military airfields, particularly during the 20th century
The Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB remains a lightly populated, undeveloped area, popular for outdoor recreation and tourism. The area is prized for its tranquillity, the quality of the environment and culture and for its outstanding wildlife. Compared to other parts of Great Britain it has a relatively dry climate.
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. The Suffolk Coast is blessed with superb places to eat and plenty of high quality local produce. Local smoked fish, Suffolk ham and pork, cheese, honey and jams are especially good.
All meals included
All your meals are included in the price. We provide sturdy breakfasts, glorious ingredients to make your personalised lunch box for days in the field and satisfying dinners. Evening meals vary between fully catered meals together at Elizabeth Court, to opportunities to sample the local pubs and maybe some fish and chips on the beach if the weather permits.
We always stop for freshly prepared tea and coffee 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.
There are many pretty villages in the area to visit if you have some extra time, Walberswick is a great exampe with its village green and two of the best traditional pubs in Suffolk. You can get there in a short drive.
From Walberswick, a rowing boat ferry crosses the River Blyth allowing you to walk into Southwold. This picturesque seaside town is home to the Adnam’s brewery and has sandy beaches, coloured beach huts and an old-fashioned promenade pier, making it the perfect afternoon off from work!
South of Dunwich is RSPB Minsmere. Although we’ll be working there, we’ll also have time to tour the reserve with its network of footpaths, seven hides and a public viewing platform for serious, up-close birding.
ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURES
You have two options. The nearest train station is located at Saxmundham with services provided by Greater Anglia to Ipswich and London Liverpool Street. We can meet you at Saxmundham railway station or you can travel in your own transport direct to Aldeburgh.
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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