Simon's Blog: Out Standing in Winter
Winter in upon us and as I write this we have just had the first snow of the year. It reminds me that this is a great time of year to welcome visitors to two of England’s finest landscapes, the nationally designated Dedham Vale and Suffolk Coast & Heaths Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).
While the number of human visitors may decline in the winter months, a hardy variety of human, can be seen standing out in the countryside, gloves and hat pulled tight and the tell-tale binoculars hanging from the neck. But it is not just the expert birder who can gain enjoyment from watching wildlife.
The experts can recognise the difference between a ringed or grey plover, a marsh harrier or visiting hen harrier or identify the whistling call of a wigeon. But you don’t have to be able to identify the different birds or visit a nature reserve to enjoy the wonderful spectacle.
One of my most memorable bird watching experiences was a gathering, or a murmuration as it is known, of starlings from a supermarket car park. Such was the spectacle that many shoppers stopped to watch it.
You don’t need to go far to enjoy what nature has to offer. Indeed, within the nationally designated landscapes you could watch the winter birds from many accessible sites. These sites include from the pavement over looking Cattawade Marshes, from several pub car parks along the estuaries before you even consider going to some of the outstanding nature reserves such as Minsmere, Spouses Vale or Dunwich Heath.
Many of the birds arrive from the colder climates to the north. With the leaves off the trees and the duller colours of winter many of the birds are easier to spot. It can all contribute to a fantastic experience, but be aware many get quite hooked and want to see more and more.
I encourage you to get out and enjoy what nature has to offer in the winter. It can be rewarding and always makes me feel better about the shorter days.
First published in the EADT 8/12/17