Spoonbills in Suffolk

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

Deben Commercial Fishing

By Robert Simper

Tidal River Deben was never a major fishing centre. The saltings along the edge of the river were, and still are, breeding grounds for some fish, but the estuary really relied on fish coming from the North Sea. However, the narrow river entrance and fast tide often swept them past. In the past there was enough fish to warrant some commercial fishing in the Deben.


Harry Simper drift netting for herring in the Our Boys

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Lightning Craft

by Josh Masters


Photo: Claudia Myatt

Introduction from Julia Jones (RDA Journal Editor):

I am one of many river users who is currently wondering what I can do to reduce my carbon emissions. The RYA (Royal Yachting Association) has recently published their aspiration to make the UK’s recreational boating sector zero carbon by 2050 with a 50% reduction in carbon emissions from boat engines by 2030. https://www.rya.org.uk/about-us/policies/environment-and-sustainability

It’s perhaps easier to see what can be done with new-build boats than with yachts like mine, built as a motor-sailor in 1946. While I can safely undertake to use my sails as frequently as possible (that’s the joy of being a water-born hybrid) it will remain impossible to push one’s way out of the narrow Deben entrance against a spring flood if the wind is adverse. Continue reading

Maintenance of the River Wall to Flood Cell 01 on the River Deben

By Robin Whittle

Introduction.  This article describes an investigation concerning the maintenance of the river wall to Flood Cell 01.  This has led to an understanding of how the raising of any river wall in the estuary will affect the possible flooding of other flood cells.  The work has resulted in providing the landowners with the results and a proposal for a protocol for the maintenance of the river walls.

Figure 1 (taken from the Deben Estuary Plan, 20151) shows the topography of the flood cells.


Figure 1: Topography of the flood cells

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River Deben Festivities 2021 and before

By Julia Jones & Archie White

We publish this RDA Journal post on the eve of a new River Deben Festival – a new style of weeklong festival where many of the river businesses, clubs and organisations come together to do something special.  The Deben Summer Festival is the inspiration of Moray McPhail, Matt Lis, supported by the committee of the River Deben Association and many others.  Until the festival begins, the best place to visit is the website which continues to grow as organisations add their events. https://www.debenfestival.org/events

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Summer Holiday Ideas and Contacts 2021

Prepared by the River Deben Association (July 2021)

Summer 2021 is another summer where it’s going to be hard for families to make plans. Government restrictions have been removed but Covid 19 infections are rising again and everyone has been asked to behave responsibly and with consideration for others. Many people will already have decided to enjoy their holidays in the UK rather than go abroad. Spending as much time as possible out of doors is likely to be a good choice though we’ll need to be extra-sensitive to pressure on the river environment.

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An Accidental Writer

By Robert Simper

Most people seem to get into writing from journalism or being connected with a university. I started writing because an incident unloading a lorry. Back in the 1950s, drivers unloaded their own lorries. I took a load of oats in bags into the ECF (Essex County Farmers) mill in Commercial Road, Ipswich and cheerfully grabbed the last bag of the load  and swung it round. At the same time something awful happened in my lower back. I spent the next ten years getting over it and have had to be careful ever since.

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Oystercatchers on the Deben

By Sally Westwood

The Oystercatcher lifted itself up, its legs unfolding slowly, and stepped out of the central space of a coiled rope. An egg lay in the space, the rope provided a wall for the nest. The nest was on the top of a 50-60 foot, river maintenance vessel. The boat was used for clearing channels and ditches, effectively keeping the river flowing. It had a crane at one end, and a vast square hold in the centre. The Oystercatchers had their nest on a flat surface at the other end of the vessel. The Oystercatcher called four times, at the edge of the vessel. Its mate arrived, and landed on a rusty, round, steel stanchion. It walked over to the nest, stepped in and lowered itself down onto the egg. Adjusting itself by wobbling from side to side, to comfortably cover the speckled egg. Eggs are incubated for 24 to 35 days.1 The other Oystercatcher flew off to the blades of grass and green weed at the edge of the water, abundant because of the warm weather. Tide was high and coming in. That was day eight, for the egg in the rope. Continue reading

Of Diaries and the Perennial Diarist of Waldringfield

By Gareth Thomas

[This article is about A Perennial Diary kept by the Reverend Thomas Henry Waller, Rector of Waldringfield for 43 years from 1862 to 1905.   Please note that where entries are quoted verbatim the text is italicised.]

Readers who belong to The Arts Society will have had the opportunity recently to hear Irving Finkel, a curator at the British Museum, pronouncing on the immense value of diaries and describing a collection of 11,000 such pieces which he oversees at the Bishopsgate Institute, opposite Liverpool Street Station. 

Finkel, a real enthusiast in the preservation of diaries, describes the simplest, most humble diaries as ‘magical’, because they are concerned with the life of real people who have written ‘the truth as they see it, without manipulation.’ He makes a particular point that none of the 11,000 diaries in question were kept by politicians. Continue reading