Suffolk Coast – Rare Habitats and Wildlife

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.

Collecting mammal traps    Harvest mouse in a bag

 

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.

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Magic moments…

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.

Looking at a mouseWild 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 NessIMG_2876, 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.

 

IMG_2769We’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

Invert sampling HavergateHavergate 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.

Wood mouse in trap

 

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.

 

DSC_0183If 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.

33eFIELD TRAINING

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.

SKILLS REQUIRED

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.

 

Chantry BarnWe’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 ownBedroom at Chantry Barn

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.

 

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Shingle Street, SuffolkThis 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.

Orford ness bomb testing buildingsAs 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 CREDIT Tony Pick 2011 smallOrfordness 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.

Orford CastleDominating 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.

Discussing conservation over dinnerWe'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

Wild Days picnicAs 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.

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Yacht pond in AldeburghTo 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.

Snape MaltingsA 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

VISA INFORMATION

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.

GENERAL INFORMATION

See our general information pages on:

USEFUL LINKS

CONTACT US

We love to talk about our work and projects. Please get in touch with any query.

basecamp@wilddaysconservation.org :: 01603 505731

 

General beach view, inc. people and boat T.PICK 2011 - square

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Suffolk Coast

Suffolk Coast

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.

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Magic moments…

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.

Survey with Wild Days Conservation

 

 

The Mammal Society :: Wild Days Conservation :: www.wilddaysconservation.org

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.

DSC_0057FIELD TRAINING

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.

SKILLS REQUIRED

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.

Woodbridge, Kyson Point - River Deben - credit MIKE PAGE

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

Beach at Dunwich

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.

 

Outdoor eating West Lexham_opt

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.

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Walberswick village green

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.

Southwold Pier

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.

 

VISA INFORMATION

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.

GENERAL INFORMATION

See our general information pages on:

USEFUL LINKS

CONTACT US

We love to talk about our work and projects. Please get in touch with any query.

basecamp@wilddaysconservation.org

Birdwatchers, laughing - DMO - Square

 

Silver studded blue, underside, on bell heather

Bridge Barn accommodation bedroom

Wherry in Suffolk