$article->leadphoto->descriptionNature enthusiasts listen in! Here’s our guide to just a handful of the many Suffolk Wildlife Trust nature reserves around the coastal town of Aldeburgh.

Sizewell Belts

Size: 236.25 acres
Park: Kenton Hills car park off Lovers’ Lane
Dogs: No dogs
Best time to visit: May – July

This enormous reserve has just about everything; marsh, reedbed and wet woodland, with heathland and a beach!

It is one of the best wetlands in the whole of East Anglia for wildflowers.

Star Species: Otter, water vole, barn owl

What Can I See?

A stronghold for otters, water voles and kingfishers, you will also find water rail, barn owls, and perhaps more rarely, the haunting bittern and flighty bearded tit are also found here.

In the wildflower meadows, where cattle and sheep graze, you can see four species of orchid – yellow rattle, ragged-robin, bogbean and lady’s smock.

The dykes come alive with dragonflies in the summer (17 species have been recorded here), and visiting wigeon, snipe and shovelver are attracted to the marshes during winter.

You can pick up leaflets detailing walks on Sizewell Belts and the adjacent Kenton and Goose Hills from the car park.

The Haven, Thorpeness

Size: 40 acres
Park: Aldeburgh and Thorpeness car parks
Dogs: Kept under control
Best time to visit: March – July, September and October

An exposed mosaic of shingle, dune grassland, fen and scrub, stretching between Aldeburgh and Thorpeness. This is the place to come to admire the largest colony of adder’s tongue fern in Suffolk.

Star species: Sand catchfly, adder’s tongue

What Can I See?

The windswept beach contains many maritime plants, such as sea pea on the shingle areas, and sand catchfly, clustered clover and bur medick in the sandier zones.

The fabulous great green bush cricket, one of our largest insects, has its home here. These striking creatures grow to around 5 cm long, and are likely to crawl rather than hop. Active in the evening, you can hear them singing well into the night.

On the west side of the coastal road, in the scrub and reedbed, you will find marsh harriers and migrant birds taking a break before and after their long African migrations.

Hazlewood Marshes

Size: 156 acres
Park: Off Aldeburgh Road, 0.5km from reserve
Dogs: No dogs
Best time to visit: November – February

One of the last undrained grazing marshes on the Suffolk Coast, and among the most important for breeding wading birds, such as redshank, snipe and wintering wildfowl like white fronted geese.

Looking out over the Alde estuary from the Eric Hosking hide gives great views of birds taking advantage of the flooding tide.

Star Species: Red shank, snipe, black-tailed godwit

What Can I See? 

Look out for pintail, wigeon, black-tailed goodwit and avocet.

Cattle graze the marshes to maintain the tussocky grass, favoured by breeding waders, whilst in other areas the grass is kept shorter to provide winter grazing for wildfowl.

There is also a network of fresh and brackish water dykes, which dissect the grazing marsh; in some stretches of the fresh water, the flowerless stems of stonewort are just visible below the surface.

In the brackish areas you will see soft hornwort and horned pondweed. Look out for breeding birds, such as sedge, reed warbler and bearded tit, as well as dragonflies, around the reed fringes.

Blaxhall Common

Size: 110 acres
Park: Small car parks off the B1069 and Iken road
Dogs: Under control
Best time to visit: May – September

“The calming, insular feel of this heathland is hard to describe”…

Star Species: Woodlark, nightjar, adder, ant-lion

What Can I See?

Birds like woodlark, nightjar, goldcrest, long-tailed tit and tree pipit can be found alongside common lizard, adder and plants, like heath, milkwort, speedwell, heath bedstraw and sheep’s sorrel.

The bold red and white fly agaric, a poisonous mushroom so often portrayed in children’s fairytales, is among the many fungi that appear in autumn.

In summer, small copper, common blue and small heath butterflies dance in the clearings.

Image from Suffolk Wildlife Trust