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.
By Sally Westwood
Figure 1: Spoonbill. Rio Formosa, Faro, Portugal
An Eurasian Spoonbill1 was observed feeding at Lodge Marsh, Ramsholt, on the Northern shoreline of the River Deben, in early June this year, and another in July.2 Last summer six birds were seen together in June at the same marshland. I was not fortunate enough to capture an image of the Spoonbill at Ramsholt. The spoonbill in the image above (Figure 1) was taken during one of my brief winter migrations to Portugal. The area of extensive marshland at Ramsholt, bordering the river, is an ideal feeding habitat for Spoonbills.3 They feed in coastal waters, as well as freshwater and wetland4 areas. These sightings were special occasions for River Deben birdwatchers. Spoonbills are one of the rarest birds in the country. Spoonbills are newcomers to East Anglia, and England generally, following an absence of over 300 years.5 Continue reading
by Sally Westwood
I heard the Little Egret’s1 alarm call before I saw it. It flew along the River Deben, against the ebbing tide. It landed at the end of a wide gully, with drenched, smooth mudflats steeped up at the sides. An Avocet2 had been walking away from the gully, along the receding shoreline, sweeping its upturned, black bill from side to side in shallow water searching for food, such as crustaceans and worms. It turned when it heard the Little Egret’s alarm, watched it land and strode rapidly towards it, determinedly. The Little Egret tucked its beak down in its chest, oblivious, neck arched round, and down, cleaning feathers on its chest. Short damp feathers on its crown were upright and spiky.
by Sally Westwood
A walk along the bank of the River Deben can be interesting whatever the weather. The birds are there, going about their business, searching for food, and perhaps squabbling and arguing about temporary feeding territory. I had a walk along the riverbank towards Wilford Bridge from the direction of Woodbridge, to see what birds were about. The tide was coming in. The weather was bright and sunny. I immediately spotted two huge flocks of Lapwings (Vanellus vanillas) swirling around in the sky. Commonly, Lapwings flock together in the winter months on marshes (Svensson, 2009). They can be identified by their white and black rounded wing-tips showing dark above and white below, moving in a flapping motion. Close up views when stationary, reveal a long thin, wispy head-crest. The winter plumage shows a scaly pattern on their dark upper parts and coverts. This contrasts with their summer plumage, which has a beautiful purple and green iridescence. As they turned, I could see the flickering of the black and white of their wings.
By Stephen Thompson
I’ve long enjoyed the Deben estuary – my “hole in the water lined with wood or fibreglass into which you pour money” lives there (or to be strictly accurate, it lives propped up on wooden blocks in a yard beside the Deben while I fettle it). However I’d never actually seen a paper copy of “The Deben” magazine until very recently. It’s very impressive – and in particular the photographs and paintings of this gorgeous area. The beautiful scenery reflected in the mirror surface of still waters capture the peace and tranquillity.
But my own interest in such locations has always been driven by a desire to know what’s happening “on the other side of the mirror”. I think this probably started watching Jacques Cousteau on “The World About Us” on Sunday evenings (and if you can remember that, you really are dating yourself!), and poking about in streams and ponds to see what was down there. Fishing, and later on SCUBA diving, fed this ambition, and when it came time to choose I selected a Marine Biology degree. Continue reading