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Autumnwatch - The Next Episode

Written by Anne Howard on

Golden Autumn light of Suffolk with birds flying together

After the BBC TV programme ‘Springwatch’ was filmed at the RSPB Reserve at Minsmere, I have to confess that I have totally fallen in love with Suffolk. But it is admiration from afar as I have never really been to Suffolk before other than for an occasional visit, today is the day to put that right.

Four days in Suffolk await me and I have been fortunate enough to find the perfect property located within a stone’s throw of the reserve at Minsmere, called Willow Farm. Willow Farm is a beautiful seventeenth century farmhouse which has been tastefully restored and this will be the ideal home for me and my dog for the next few days. Willow Farm is in Eastbridge which is a hamlet really, not big enough to be called a village and is known as the back door to Minsmere. So that’s my first box ticked.

The purple heather of Suffolk
Heather clad Suffolk
A marsh harrier in flight
Marsh Harrier

I am certainly not a knowledgeable bird enthusiast but I love looking at wildlife of all types and there are a few key things on my wish list that I would like to see. I am keen on birds of prey and hear that it is possible to see Marsh Harriers gather at dusk in the autumn over the reserve. In complete contrast, I would also like to see a kingfisher for the first time and perhaps even otters in the reed beds.

Also on my ‘to do’ list is a visit to Dunwich which is just north of Minsmere on the coast. I have read that herds of deer gather on Dunwich Heath for the autumn rutting season but Dunwich also appeals for another reason. Some years ago I learned that it was once an ancient, bustling port, a small city in fact with eight churches. Dunwich in that form has long since disappeared beneath the waves of the North Sea but legend has it that you can still hear the tolling bells of the lost churches from the medieval city under the sea, and this has always captured my imagination. Dunwich has a beach which is dog friendly all year round and my furry companion won’t have to miss out on dinner either as dogs are also welcome at the Ship Inn in Dunwich which is my chosen port of call for an evening meal.

Two bearded tits in long grass at Minsmere
Bearded Tits - Minsmere
Deer standing together on the heathland of Dunwich, Suffolk
Deer gather on Dunwich Heath

This part of Suffolk has it all, woodland, heath and coast and a selection of the loveliest and most traditional pubs. It is abundant with wildlife, unspoiled, genuine and so atmospheric in the mists of autumn and the ever changing colours. I had intended to factor Southwold into my itinerary but I don’t think I will have time for that trip now, but that’s just another reason to return to Suffolk again next year.

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Anne Howard

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