Our birds on the Deben – what can we do to help them? Focus on the redshank

By Sally Westwood

In 2021, Suffolk Coast & Heath Area of Natural Beauty (AONB) selected the Redshank1 as their flagship bird as a part of their Nature Recovery Plan2. Commendably, they called for volunteers to help with the project of protecting the Redshank including their nesting habitat. Redshanks are present on the River Deben but I have only ever seen one feeding along the river’s edge, on my river walk. I thought it might be interesting for the reader to have some insight on the background of Suffolk Coast & Heath AONB’s Nature Recovery intervention and the plight not only of the Redshank, but as we might have suspected, a considerable number of species of birds, that visit the Deben. It is not a comfortable read, however, the good news is, steps are being taken to stop the decline in species.

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UK Heritage Harbour Initiative

Introduction by Julia Jones (RDA Journal Editor)

I have always particularly enjoyed the placards of detailed boat information that have been on display at Maritime Woodbridge but it was working with the Waldringfield History Group on their book Waldringfield: a Suffolk Village by the River Deben (2020) that made me more acutely aware how much history of many different types, is encapsulated in our river, particularly in its businesses, its boats, its people and their skills and interests.

Sometimes, the evidence around us has become so familiar that we hardly see it. An article this month in Topmasts: the Journal for the Society for Nautical Research snr.org.uk/topmast/ (p10) opened my eyes to the history of Lady Alice Kenlis, a Deben wreck about which I was previously completely ignorant.

 I’m therefore particularly pleased to introduce this article from Brian Corbett who is leading the UK Heritage Harbour initiative and makes no secret of his belief that the River Deben should be part of this. The RDA Journal, however, prints this article for information and interest – not to lobby! 

I have also taken the opportunity of adding a few photos of the River Deben’s older inhabitants to Brian’s interesting contribution.

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Saltmarsh Research on the River Deben

by Richard Steward and Robin Whittle

Introduction

Estuary saltmarshes are an ecologically unique tidal area of marshland which is regularly flooded with salt or brackish water and then drained by the lowering tide. The River Deben has the highest amount of saltmarsh of any Suffolk River.  It extends 18km from Felixstowe Ferry up to Melton. The width of saltmarsh between the river channel and bank varies from nothing to over 600m between Hemley and Waldringfield.  Salt-tolerant plants stabilise incoming sediment creating a marsh environment that supports the aquatic food chain, provides essential coastal flood protection and improves carbon storage.

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