Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris ©Dylan Vasapolli Website

The recording area of Suffolk (areas 25 & 26 in the Watsonian system) is co-terminus with the ceremonial county of Suffolk, but for recording purposes there are recorders for three divisions, Northeast, Southeast and West.

Suffolk is an East Anglian county of historic origin in England. It has borders with Norfolk to the north, Cambridgeshire to the west and Essex to the south. The North Sea lies to the east. It has an area of c.3,800 km2 (1,500 square miles) and a population of just  over 750,000 people making it one of the least densely populated in the south England. The largest settlement and county town is Ipswich; other important towns include Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket and Felixstowe, one of the largest container ports in Europe.

The county is low-lying with very few hills, and is largely arable land with the wetlands of the Broads in the north. The Suffolk Coast and Heaths are an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The coastline is a complex habitat, formed by London clay and crag underlain by chalk and therefore susceptible to erosion. It contains several deep estuaries, including those of the rivers Byth, Deben, Orwell, Stour, and Alde/Ore; the latter is separated from the North Sea by Orford Ness, a large spit. Large parts of the coast are backed by heath and wetland habitats, such as Sandlings. The north-east of the county contains part of the Broads, a network of rivers and lakes. Inland, the landscape is flat and gently undulating, and contains part of Thetford Forest on the Norfolk border and Dedham Vale on the Essex border.

Birding Suffolk

Like the rest of East Anglia, it is a gem for birding. From the Stour in the South, to the Waveney and Broads. From the Brecks (unique grass heath habitat) in the West to the coast in the east, the county provides something for everyone.

The Breckland has Goshawk, Stone Curlew, Crossbills and other coniferous woodland and heath specialities. It is a unique habitat and Suffolk has more of it than Norfolk. The Fens provides wetland species. Wintering ducks and geese. Breeding birds such as Harriers and historically Golden Orioles.

The river valleys hold the odd gravel pit, where migrant passerines and wildfowl congregate. Red Kite has become a well-established species in the west of the county and is gradually colonising the rest of Suffolk too.

The Iconic Minsmere RSPB Reserve ©Chris Lotz

In the East of the county are the river valleys, and many warblers amongst the reeds. The estuaries of Suffolk have their own variety. There is one main reservoir in the county, Alton Water, near Ipswich which continues to be a good birding spot. The coast however is a world of its own. Minsmere, Landguard, Orfordness all spring to mind. Bittern, Marsh Harrier, and Avocet all breed here.

Some top spots are referred to below, but there are many, many more and the details of the site, including what you might be able to see can be found on the relevant web pages for the organisations mentioned or listed in the reserves section. For details on all field-guides for the county, on all aspects of wildlife contact the Suffolk Naturalists’ Society. Sensible parking and keeping to footpaths keeps the continued relationship between birders and landowners in the county at a good level. As mentioned there are many sites where rare breeding birds nest. All those species in East Anglia, have a fully wardened site where those birds can be viewed without disturbance. Contact the main organisations for dates of events where you can really benefit from the diversity of the reserves.

Top Sites
  • James Cracknell


County Recorder
Useful Reading

  • Suffolk's Wildlife Coast: A Guide to the RSPB Nature Reserves in Suffolk

    | By Malcolm Key, John Grant & Jenny James | RSPB Woodbridge Local Group | 2012 | Paperback | 124 pages, colour photos, colour maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780956316240 Buy this book from
  • The Barley Bird: Notes on the Suffolk Nightingale

    | By Richard Mabey & Derrick Greaves | Full Circle Editions Ltd | 2010 | Hardback | 78 pages, Colour images | ISBN: 9780956186911 Buy this book from
  • The Birds of Suffolk

    | By Steve Piotrowski | Christopher Helm | 2018 | Paperback | 360 pages, Colour photos, b/w illustrations, distribution maps | ISBN: 9781472961310 Buy this book from
  • Where to Watch Birds in East Anglia

    | Cambridgeshire, Norfolk & Suffolk | David Callahan | Bloomsbury Publishing | 2020 | Edition 5 | Paperback | 366 pages, b/w illustrations, b/w maps | ISBN: 9781472962225 Buy this book from
  • Languard Bird Observatory

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    The Landguard Bird Observatory (LBO) is an independent organisation run and administered by a registered charity, 'Landguard Conservation Trust'. It relies on its members, friends and volunteers to survive and function. Membership is open to anyone interested in the aims and objectives of the observatory. The bird observatory is housed in disused military buildings alongside the Local Nature Reserve at the southern end of the town of Felixstowe in Suffolk.
  • Lowestoft Bird Club (The Lounge Lizard)

    The Lowestoft Bird Club is a very informal group of birdwatchers/birders from the Lowestoft area of north Suffolk. We currently get together once a month for an informal chat and a drink at 20:00 hours on the first Tuesday of each month (except December) in the bar of the Stanford Arms public house in Stanford Street in central Lowestoft. We used to publish our own occasional newsletter, the The Lounge Lizard, but this website has now replaced it.
  • RSPB Ipswich Local Group

    The group's aim is to support actively the work of the RSPB in the local community and to involve RSPB members and the wider public in the Society' conservation, public affairs, education, fundraising and other activities. We hold monthly indoor meetings from September through to April with speakers giving illustrated talks on birds, wildlife and conservation. So, if you would like to have fun and meet like minded people contact us and make a difference for birds and wildlife.
  • RSPB Lowestoft Local Group

    The group's aim is to support the RSPB by providing information about the RSPB and birds, and by fundraising for local reserves. We meet on the first Friday of each month for a talk about wildlife or conservation. Each month we have one or more field meetings either by coach or more locally by private transport to visit reserves and see birds. We have several social events each year and do practical conservation at Minsmere in the winter.
  • RSPB Woodbridge Local Group

    This is the website of the Woodbridge Local Group. RSPB local groups are a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people in your area while learning more about birds and wildlife.
  • SWT Local Wildlife Groups

    The groups organise a wide range of wildlife and fundraising activities at community venues and local wildlife sites all year round, to celebrate Suffolk's wildlife and countryside and encourage more support for the Trust.
  • Suffolk Bird Group

    Twitter Feed
    Suffolk Bird Group is for people interested in the birds of Suffolk. A county network and the voice for birdwatchers in Suffolk
  • Suffolk Bird Group

    We are the voice of Suffolk birdwatchers. An independent birding group and registered charity founded in 1973.
  • Suffolk Naturalists Society

    Suffolk Birds contains papers and accounts of the status and occurrences of every species of bird recorded in Suffolk in that year, along with drawings and photographs
  • Suffolk Wildlife Trust

    Suffolk Wildlife Trust is Suffolk’s nature charity – the only organisation dedicated wholly to safeguarding Suffolk’s wildlife and countryside.
  • Waveney Bird Club

    The friendly club for birdwatchers in Norfolk & Suffolk

Abbreviations Key

  • *SWT Nature Reserves

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    Explore a Nature Reserve...
  • Accessible Reserves

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    Each of the following links lead to a BFA assessment of the reserve by BFA members and others, using the BFA form. ALL types of mobility problem are assumed so there are details of path surfaces, gradients and distances as well as benches and hide details.
  • CP Brandon Country Park

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    Located in the vast Thetford Forest, Brandon lies in the very heart of The Brecks. A wild landscape of dark forests, open heathlands, sandy soils and iconic belts of pine trees that straddles the Suffolk and Norfolk border.
  • CP Long Melford Country Park

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    The Park is designated as a Local Nature Reserve. It has a beautiful walk through the woodland, lakes, grassland and along the river frontage. The river Stour forms the western and southern boundary of the park and the riverbank is lined with mature White Popular.
  • CP West Stow Country Park

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    Surrounding the Anglo Saxon Village and with 125 acres of unspoiled countryside, trails, heath and woodland walks, there is plenty to explore at West Stow Country Park. For wildlife enthusiasts there is a bird hide and a bird feeding area as well as a lake and the River Lark with all the life that this attracts.
  • LNR Black Bourn Valley

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    Suffolk Wildlife Trust has been ‘wilding’ the Black Bourn Valley by taking fields out of arable farming and allowing nature to take over. The first field was left over twenty years ago and is now an impenetrable thicket of hawthorn, blackthorn and dog rose – perfect for blackcap and other warblers in summer and flocks of redwing and fieldfare in winter.
  • LNR Blaxhall Common

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    It holds an attraction for wildlife too and birds like woodlark, nightjar, dartford warbler, goldcrest, nightingale and stonechat can be found alongside common lizard, adder and plants like heath milkwort, speedwell, heath bedstraw and sheep’s sorrel.
  • LNR Bonny Wood

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    ...Birds are also plentiful at this time of year with melodies from summer migrants such as blackcap and willow warbler mingling with the song of resident species. There are also frequent sightings of hobby and at dusk the woodcock’s ‘roding’ mating display can sometimes be glimpsed in the wood...
  • LNR Bull's Wood

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    The circular walk that winds past traditionally managed coppices of hazel and ash, takes you through lush rides opened up for butterflies such as the gatekeeper, speckled wood and orange tip. Birds such as marsh tits, long-tailed tits and tree-creeper can also be regularly seen
  • LNR Carlton Marshes

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    The reserve is also one of the best sites in East Anglia to see grasshopper warblers. The reed and sedge beds along the river wall make ideal nesting cover for reed and sedge warblers, bearded tit, Cetti’s warbler and marsh harrier. The grazing marshes are also ideal for wintering wildfowl and breeding waders with lapwing and redshank displaying through the spring and large numbers of wigeon, teal and snipe in winter.
  • LNR Hazlewood Marshes

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    ...t was a dramatic change. Undoubtedly the reserve is significantly now a very different place. Whole communities of plants and invertebrates disappeared almost overnight and the birds that depended on them – water rail, bittern – are gone too. Yet the explosive power of nature gives as well as takes. Majestic spoonbill can now be seen on the reserve during winter along with huge flocks of black-tailed godwits and dunlin. Redshank, lapwing and avocet all nest here and the briny waters ring with many species of duck calls...
  • LNR Lackford Lakes

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    Lackford Lakes is a wildlife oasis with a landscape of lakes, reeds, meadow and woodland. There is wildlife in close-up all year round from iridescent kingfisher and dazzling dragonflies to elusive otter. In spring, listen to the sound of singing birds with the arrival of nightingales and warblers from Africa. The first bees and butterflies start to make appearances on bright spring days. Later in summer, the reserve is alive with damselflies and dragonflies. Swallows and martins sweep over the surface of the water feeding on small flies. The lakesides are busy with nesting great-crested grebe, tufted duck and water rail.
  • LNR Landguard Nature Reserve

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    Landguard is a designated Local Nature Reserve (LNR) due to its value to the local community and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of its high wildlife conservation value, such as its rare vegetated shingle habitat and botanical species. Its position means that over the years it has turned up a great many rarities!
  • LNR Mickle Mere

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    Although Mickle Mere’s creation owes much to luck, the restoration and management of the site – through the creation of islands and scrapes – has seen numbers of breeding, wintering and passage birds soar. During the winter, teal, wigeon, gadwall and shoveler are frequent visitors, while passage birds include greenshank, bar-tailed godwit, black tern and ruff. In the summer, shelduck, redshank and lapwing all breed at the reserve. The patient (and the lucky) might also get to see Mickle Mere’s reclusive otters.
  • LNR Sandlings Heaths & Forest

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    Looking across the larger heaths today such as those around Sutton & Hollesley, it is possible to gain a sense of just what the Sandlings landscape must have looked like in the past. The trees and scrub that had invaded the heath in recent decades have been cleared to create once more the open landscape so favoured by woodlarks and Dartford warblers. The late-summer spectacle of flowering heathers is as impressive as ever and colonies of silver-studded blue butterflies have since spread back into the restored heathland.
  • LNR Trimley Marshes

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    Whether it is rafts of duck, colonies of avocet or the razor-like wings of a peregrine in stooping flight, the sheer number of birds that Trimley Marshes attracts is nothing short of spectacular.
  • NNR Benacre

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    Over 100 breeding bird species use the reserve including marsh harrier, bearded reedling, water rail, a variety of ducks, and, in some years, bittern. Little terns are summer visitors to the shore and the heathlands are home to woodlark, wheatear and hobby.
  • NNR Bradfield Woods

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    Bradfield Woods are almost entirely of ancient origin. The woods have been under continuous traditional management since 1252.
  • NNR Cavenham Heath

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    Cavenham Heath NNR is a typical Breck heathland comprising riverside meadows, woodland, wet woodland scrub and small areas of fen.
  • NNR Orford Ness

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    With such diverse habitats, Orford Ness attracts a wide variety of birds, mammals, moths and butterflies. From delicate Chinese water deer and big brown hares to barn owls and birds of prey including falcons and marsh harriers, there's lots of wildlife to discover on a visit to the Ness.
  • NNR Redgrave and Lopham Fen

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    Redgrave and Lopham Fen NNR is an extensive area of spring-fed valley fen in the headwaters of the River Waveney on the Suffolk/Norfolk border. It is the largest fen in lowland England. The reserve has a range of distinct habitats including the internationally important saw sedge beds and purple-moor grasslands. It is also home to one of only 2 British populations of the fen raft spider
  • NNR Suffolk Coast - Walberswick, Hen Reedbed and Dingle Marshes

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    Brochure NE260: Walberswick National Nature Reserve leaflet, PDF, 6.7 MB
  • NNR Thetford Heath

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    Thetford Heath is a fine example of Breckland grass heath, with a wide sweep of open landscape, home to many of the rare and specialist species so typical of the area.
  • NNR Westleton heath

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    Birds of open heath and light scrub are well represented here and include tree pipit, dartford warbler, stonechat and nightjar. The woodlands support nightingale and woodcock.
  • NT Dunwich Heath

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    Conveniently adjacent to Minsmere; tucked away on the Suffolk coast, Dunwich Heath offers you peace and quiet and a true sense of being at one with nature. A rare and precious habitat, the Heath is home to special species such as the Dartford warbler, nightjar, woodlark, ant-lion, adders and much more.
  • RSPB Boyton and Hollesley Marshes

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    Boyton and Hollesley Marshes are two vibrant coastal reserves in the lower reaches of the Alde-Ore Estuary. They include rich grazing marshes, making them great places for watching birds of prey, owls, butterflies and dragonflies.
  • RSPB Havergate Island

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    This small island in the River Ore is famous for its breeding avocets and terns, which can usually be seen during spring and summer. In autumn and winter, the island provides a haven for large numbers of ducks and wading birds. Havergate is also a great place to see brown hares at close range. Access is by boat only and the boat trip to the island helps you really feel you're getting away from it all. Pre-booking is essential – please contact the RSPB Minsmere nature reserve on 01728 648281.
  • RSPB Lakenheath Fen

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    At Lakenheath Fen, the RSPB has converted an area of arable farmland into a large wetland, consisting mainly of reedbeds and grazing marshes. The new reedbeds have attracted hundreds of pairs of reed warblers and sedge warblers, as well as bearded tits and marsh harriers. Bitterns have been seen increasingly in all seasons of the year. In early summer, hobbies catch insects high over the marshes. Blackcaps, garden warblers and woodpeckers breed in the remnant popular woods on the reserve. Barn owls and kingfishers are regularly seen during the winter months. There is a new visitor centre where you can find out more about the reserve, its wildlife and history. An events programme is run throughout the year, and family explorer backpacks and trail guides are available.
  • RSPB Minsmere

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    There's so much to see and hear at Minsmere: splendid woodland, wetland and coastal scenery, rare birds breeding and calling in on their migrations, shy wildlife like otters, the booming call of bitterns in spring, beautiful bugs and colourful wild flowers in summer. Whenever you visit, you'll find plenty to enjoy. Choose an idyllic walk or head to the coastal lagoons to see and impressive variety of birds. Be sure to keep an eye on the reedbeds too. Maybe you'll catch a glimpse of a bittern or shy otter?
  • RSPB North Warren

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    This delightful reserve contains grazing marshes, reedbeds, heathland and woodland. Thousands of ducks, swans and geese use the marshes in winter, while spring brings breeding bitterns, marsh harriers, woodlarks and nightingales. Look out for the many species of butterflies and dragonflies.
  • SPA & SSSI Kings Forest

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    The Forest was named to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary. Fallow deer are common here. There is a mature Beech avenue on the roadside and parking just off the B1106. The chalky soil supports a prolific flower population including Wild Thyme, Bird's Foot Trefoil and numerous butterflies, such as Dingy Skipper and Brown Argus
Sightings, News & Forums
  • Suffolk Bird Group

    Latest Bird Sightings In Suffolk courtesy of BINS
  • Suffolk Birds UK

    Facebook Page
    Discussion & Bird News
  • eBird Sightings

Guides & Tour Operators

    Birding Ecotours

    Tour Operator
    As part of our Covid-19 day tour policy we will meet you at the various birding sites, rather than travel together in the same vehicle. Birding Ecotours has an office in Norfolk, England, from where we offer a nice variety of guided Norfolk birdwatching day trips. Excitingly, our Norfolk office also allows us to operate 1-day Suffolk birding tours (and by request we can also run day tours in parts of Cambridgeshire).
  • Suffolk Birding

    Tour Operator
    Steve and Kathy Piotrowski run Suffolk Birding through their business SPEC, founded in 2006. Steve has lived and birdwatched in Suffolk for nearly all of his life and birding opportunities have taken him to some wonderful places around the world. Suffolk is one of the best UK counties for wildlife and we offer bird ID courses, bird surveys and countywide birdwatching and guided wildlife tours. We also offer wildlife digital photography workshops (mainly focused on Digital SLR photography) run by one of Britain’s top expert wildlife photographers. There are also opportunities for you to be led on exclusive wildlife holidays elsewhere in Europe.
Trip Reports
  • 2014 [11 November] - David & Amanda Mason - Norfolk & Suffolk

    No birding year would be complete without a few days in East Anglia. Although the main migration period was over we knew there would still be some stragglers and we were anticipating finding lots of newly arrived winter visitors to the UK’s shores...
  • 2017 [05 May] - Anser Birding - Norfolk & Suffolk Brecks

    An early meet and start to make our way through the traffic and heavy rain allowed us to reach our first natural birding stop of the day. The rain had eased but not the anticipation, this was more of a twitch as not a single one of us wanted to miss an opportunity to study a ‘trip’ of breeding plumaged Dotterel that had once again this year gathered on the fields near Choseley Drying barns, now a regular stopover...
  • 2021 [06 June] - The Biggest Twitch

    We awoke on the 20th to light rain but of course that doesn’t stop the birds and after a delicious breakfast we headed out to an area of heath close to the hotel and soon had a wonderful Stone Curlew in the scope with umbrella above to ensure dry watchers and optics – always good to be prepared. A second Stone Curlew was picked out standing still near a patch of nettles and that marvellous yellow eye stared back at us...
Places to Stay
  • Gamekeepers Cottage

    Idyllic setting with 4 acres of woodland in 100 acre wood. Suffolk location near Beccles and Southwold. Nature reserves, sea and river nearby. Birdwatching
  • Minsmere Holidays

    Our 12-acre holiday property of private woodlands and pasture lies on the valley slopes of Minsmere River, at the heart of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Longacre is close to the RSPB Minsmere Reserve. A 20-min stroll takes you to the side entrance; a 45-min walk across the marshes leads to the sluice where Minsmere River enters the sea.
  • The White Hart - Blythburgh

    The White Hart Blythburgh is on the doorstep of some of East Anglia’s best birdwatching sites. The Blyth Estuary in classed as an internationally important wetland site by RAMSAR and is a Special Protection Area and SSSI. The local area is also an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
  • Valley Farm B&B - 2 miles from Minsmere

    Farmhouse with beamed double bedroom, private shower room and a smashing breakfast. Deep in the countryside with great walks through field, hedgerow and woodland. Liz and Charles Macdowell 01728 648217
  • White Lion - Aldeburgh

    The beautifully appointed White Lion Hotel in Aldeburgh is ideally situated on the sea front along Suffolk`s acclaimed Heritage Coast, located at the end of a peninsula formed by the River Alde running parallel to the coast. Thorpeness Hotel - The Hotel offers traditional hospitality throughout the year. Guests are also welcome to enjoy the tennis courts and friendly bar at the nearby Country Club, or to hire a boat on the Meare for a spot of fishing, or a leisurely punt.
Other Links
  • Birdline East Anglia

    Birdline East Anglia What's about? Simply phone 09068 700245Please report your bird sightings to phone/text 07941333970 or e - Calls to 09068 700245 cost 60p/min from a BT landline other networks may vary
  • Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service

    The Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service is the One-Stop-Shop for biodiversity information in Suffolk. Operating as an independent and objective centre for biodiversity data we collate, manage and mobilise species and site information for the benefit of Suffolk’s wildlife as a whole.
  • Suffolk Owl Sanctuary

    Established as a registered charity in 2001, the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary at Stonham Aspal in Suffolk operates a comprehensive facility for the care & rehabilitation of owls from the region, and the promotion of owl conservation throughout the UK and beyond.
  • The Lowestoft Naturalist

    Welcome to the web site covering the Natural History of North Suffolk & beyond…
  • Craig Shaws Digiscoping Birding Blog

    I am a birder and Digiscoper using a Panasonic GX8 Compact Camera and a Leica 82 apo Spotting Scope.
  • Jim - Jim's Birding Blog

    I'm Jim, and I teach in Beccles which is a nice change from Thetford. I have always been interested in wildlife, but have been birding seriously since uni, where I penned a dissertation on a history of man and nature at Minsmere RSPB reserve.
  • John Richardson - Old Man of Minsmere

    A self-confessed birding nut...
  • Jonny Rankin - DoveStepJonny

    Blog from a Turtle Dove and wildfowl enthusiast, birding Suffolk & Norfolk
  • Keith Hudson - Suffolk Birdwatcher

    My blog about birdwatching in Suffolk. It details the many places I have been birding, in the more and the less famous places in my great county.
  • Peter Ransome - Lowestoft Birding

    Notes on birds/wildlife from a nature enthusiast & photographer (copyright Peter Ransome)
  • The Lounge Lizard

    Tweets from the Lowestoft Lizard
Photographers & Artists
  • Artist - Roger Buxton

    Roger was born in Suffolk, a county renowned for its wildlife and abundance of birds. A campaigner and fund raiser for wildlife projects, Roger is currently assisting the Waveney Valley project, creating suitable habitats for owls and other birds of prey
  • Photographer - Amanda Hayes

    Although I enjoy many areas of wildlife photography, I mostly concentrate on birds. I hope that you enjoy looking at the images on this website in the way that I have very much enjoyed taking them
  • Photographer - Jon Evans


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