Having had a nature free day yesterday (more out of necessity than choice as it was even really too cold to enjoy pottering around the shops and cafés in Southwold) today we chose to have a walk around Walberswick National Nature Reserve. Fortunately the biting cold wind of the day before had subsided and, although the dismal light was not good for photography, it was not too unpleasant for walking.
The first part of the walk took us along the Sandlings Walk (long distance route from Ipswich to Southwold which explores what remains of the once extensive Sandlings Heath). There were great tits, blue tits, chaffinches, blackbirds, robins and wrens and a single buzzard. On the heath land to our right there were lots of crows and sometimes small flocks of starlings. To our left there were extensive silver birch woods. We passed Westwood Lodge, an interesting large 16th century manor house with a huge turret which was still sporting a very large fully-lit Christmas tree .
A pheasant more worried about the distant shots than our prescence
A robin breaking cover
Crows on the heath land
Not much bird life here
At the furthest point from our base in Walberswick we had a choice of taking a return route through Dunwich Forest or a route through the reedbeds of Westwood Marshes. We chose the latter in the hope of seeing some wildfowl but the reeds were so tall that all we saw were a pair of marsh harriers, a grey heron and a mute swan flying in the distance, although we did hear the pinging of bearded tits, several Cetti’s warblers and occasionally a cacophony of wild fowl from behind the reeds.
The silver birches would have benefited from a ray of sunshine or two
Plenty of interesting fungi to see
… and lichen
The beginning of this section of the walk was interesting and testing. Our guidebook told us that “the footpath takes you through an area of wet woodland with willow and alder trees and then through dryer birch and oak woodland before emerging in to the reedbed”. The footpath through the “wet” section was elevated and well maintained and quite easy, but the “dry” section was often a quagmire and at times almost unpassable.
Not much chance seeing the wild fowl in the marshes behind the reeds although we occasionally heard the pinging of bearded tits and the easily recognizable sound of Cetti’s warblers
We could just make out tags on the distant marsh harriers
The welcome sight of the ruins of the wind pump which told us “home” was not much further
We missed out the shingle section at the end of the walk as we didn’t want to be subjected to the coastal winds and we could see a quicker route to the Bell Inn which, by that stage, was a more attractive option
Dunwich Bay in the distance
By the time we arrived home we had covered 10 miles and would have been feeling virtuous except that any good it had done us had probably been wrecked by the pint and the ploughman’s in the pub.