Previous minutes can be found here.
by Sally Westwood
Curlew (Numenius arquata)
The tide was ebbing, almost at low tide, it was about an hour before sunset. The Deben was embellished with a clear, magical light that appears just before sunset and sunrise. Such a light produces enhanced clarity of detail in everything visible to the eye. Two Curlews1 landed on the mudflat, one each side of a gully of water draining into the shallow channel of the river. Curlews are the largest waders in the UK, with a streaked and barred plumage, long legs and a distinctive down curved bill2, see image above. In flight, it shows a white section on the rump. The Whimbrel3 by comparison, is a similar bird to the Curlew, except it has a shorter, thicker bill, with a narrow stripe on the crown and is smaller than the Curlew, see image below. In flight, it shows a white section on the tail and back. I was alerted to the Curlew’s presence from their distinctive “Curlew, Curlew’’ calls made when they were flying. It is a call I regard as haunting in the cold, overcast days of winter. They also have a trembling, evocative bubbling call, that ends with what may be described as “dude” which carries some distance. One Curlew joined the other, on the other side of the gully. They immediately started squabbling, poking their long slender, down curved bills at each other, raising their wings slightly. Moments later, the set too ended when one returned to the other side of the gully and started searching for food, poking its bill, deep into the mud. The other Curlew started bathing and shaking out feathers, as in the image above. They may have been a pair, or an adult and youngster, however, research on Curlews has indicated that the latter relationship may be unlikely4. Since Curlews in England and Wales are in decline and such decline is driven by factors occurring during the annual breeding season.
Plants of the Deben – a plea for help
by Julia Jones
Louisa and Ned, Visiting from Berlin
It was June 4th the Saturday of the Platinum Jubilee Central Weekend – a bright but extremely blowy day on the River. My brother and I had hoped to take his seven year old daughter out to sea on Peter Duck but it would have been her first time and we didn’t want to put her off. So, while we waiting to go ashore and join the Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club celebrations we went for a walk to Bawdsey beach. We followed the path from the dinghy park, behind the bushes and through the dry, shrubby area where rabbits nibble and wild flowers spread. Continue reading
WSC Cadet Development Squad 2022
by Frank Thorogood
The Waldringfield Sailing Club Cadet Squadron has long been a source of pride for the river. As well as giving a lot of young people a great deal of fun over the 70+ years of its existence, it has also launched many into lifelong sailing careers and underpinned success for some at international level. Former Waldringfield Cadet sailor Daisy Collingridge is currently part of the British Olympic squad sailing a Laser Radial. Six of the ten boats who will be competing in the Cadet World Championships in Australia this winter will be from Waldringfield.
Cadet sailing is age-dependent. Its essential feature is two young people sailing together: a ‘helm’, typically aged 12-17, and a ‘crew’ who may be as young as 7. It’s obviously important to keep the youngest children coming in but also to support the transition period between crew and helm. Here, RDA and WSC member Frank Thorogood describes the Cadet Development Squad programme, which was conceived as a response to the impact of the pandemic on this process, and which has also succeeded in reaching out to a group of new sailors and bringing them in to the Cadet ‘family’.
The pandemic only saw relatively short periods of the cadet sailors at WSC being completely kept off the water. With a mix of single handing, sibling sailing and “Better than Nothing” racing we kept going whenever the rules allowed and had some great competitions along the way. The 2021 Nationals in Brixham got by with minimal covid impact and will be long remembered by everyone there, especially for the two days of big wave sailing when easterlies piled into Tor Bay. Continue reading
Talk: ‘Rooted’ – Sarah Langford in conversation with Catherine Larner – Fri 8 July 7.30pm
You Too Can Go To Sea: River Deben support for Suffolk and the Sea Day
by Julia Jones
I was sitting on a bench overlooking Suffolk Yacht Harbour at Levington and the River Orwell beyond. It was a lovely afternoon with a breeze just getting up and some classic sailing vessels on the river, contrasting with the more modern yachts moored near me and the towering cranes of Port of Felixstowe downriver. I was trying to explain to a friendly cameraman the ways in which I felt there had been such a profound shift in Britain’s attitude to her maritime heritage during my lifetime. His name’s Jon Swallow and he’s volunteered to come and record some of the sessions at the forthcoming Suffolk and the Sea Day (Felixstowe Book Festival ‘fringe’ sessions at Trimley St Mary, June 25th). We had met to discuss developing the 5th session, entitled You Too Can Go To Sea, into a film which the organisations supporting Suffolk and the Sea day could send out to schools, youth organisations, clubs, support groups. It would aim to explain that sailing and sea faring is not an exclusive activity but can be enjoyed at many levels. We want to kindle an interest and excitement in sea-going opportunities, remind people that we are not only land dwellers.
RDA AGM Minutes 2022
Suffolk and The Sea – Sailors, Artists And Anglo-Saxons
by Claudia Myatt
Every spring and early summer there is a conversation between River Deben sailors that goes something like this:
‘Have you been over the bar yet?’
‘No, but I’ve got the chartlet, hoping to go round to the Orwell next weekend’
‘What’s it like this year?’
‘Shifted a bit in that storm I hear – quite narrow now. Wouldn’t risk it until after half tide with my draft’
‘Deepest water is usually close to the beach but the tide runs hard there….’
Is sediment increasing in the River Deben?
by Robin Whittle
Low tide adjacent to Sutton marshes
The Deben became tidal at Felixstowe Ferry about 6000 years ago. Today the river is tidal up to Ufford, two miles upstream of Woodbridge. During this period sea borne sediment has built up the saltmarsh in the lower reaches to a depth of 12m.
Over the last 500 years river walls of mud and clay have been built along both sides of the tidal estuary to create arable land and grazing marshes. Since then, sediment has continued to build up the saltmarshes and mud flats lying in front of the river walls. However, saltmarsh is now under increasing attack from wave action and shore crab burrowing. Continue reading
AGM Report – Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust – The State of our Rivers Report
The East Suffolk Rivers area of 1,364 km2 encompasses the valleys, waterbodies, tributaries and estuaries of the Rivers Gipping (Orwell), Deben, Alde and Ore, Thorpeness Hundred, Yox, Blyth and Lothingland Hundred.
This area is mostly rural with significant urban areas at Felixstowe, Ipswich, Woodbridge, Wickham Market, Stowmarket, Saxmundham, Halesworth, Southwold and Kessingland.
Agriculture is the predominant land use (root veg and pig farming in the east and arable). Other pockets of land-based industry exist, including food processing, milling, malting and the manufacture of farm machinery and fertilisers.
The attached report by the Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust looks at the current state of these Suffolks Rivers.