One of the best ways to see the wildlife near to Southwold is to take the circular footpath that circumnavigates the town. The scenery changes from shoreline to river bank, reed beds, meadowland and hedgerows. Hence there is a considerable variety of habitats to support the bird, mammal, insect, amphibian, fish and reptile life.
Winter provides one of the best times to observe the bird life. It is always amusing to watch the turnstones and sanderlings chase along the beach at the water’s edge.
The Town Marsh is frequented by different geese which graze on the grass. These include Canada, Greylag, Pink Footed and Brent. To the north of Southwold, on Town Farm Marsh, Red Breasted Geese, White Fronted Geese and Egyptian Geese are often seen accompanying large flocks of Barnacle Geese.
Ducks include the common Mallard, Teal, Gadwall, Shoveller, an occasional Pintail and Shelduck. Near the bailey bridge occasional Spoonbills have been spotted and rarities such as the Lesser Yellowlegs. Closer to the dykes, common Herons fish together with Little Egrets and Kingfisher.
Piping Oystercatchers are also a common feature. The characteristic call of Lapwings can also be heard. Waders such as Curlew, Godwit, Dunlin, Snipe are often present and as winter turns into Spring, Avocet have been seen at the boating lake.
Spring also heralds the arrival of a variety of Warblers in the reed beds, Sand Martins, Swallows, House Martins and Swifts. Sky larks rise from the dunes and meadows with their melodious song. Cuckoos can also be heard and seen around the reed beds.
Overhead, the skies provide good hunting ground for Marsh Harrier (very occasional Hen Harrier), Hobby, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, and Barn Owl.
One digression from the circular walk is to turn north up the beach where Sand Martin burrows can be seen in the sandy cliff face and past Easton Bavents, nesting areas for the local Tern population. Off shore the occasional seal and passing dolphin are sometimes spotted.
Our thanks go to Professor Jon Hadgraft for this information, and his excellent photographs which accompany it.