Flocks of lapwing, goldfinch and redwing...

credit John Lord

If you're visiting us for your daily exercise why not grab a takeaway coffee and cake, take a stroll and enjoy the open views across the marsh, perhaps perching for a while on a bench to take in the spectacular autumn wildlife display. Read on for wildlife news from across the Suffolk Broads and to hear about the volunteers that make it all happen.

It's not just the wildlife that can enjoy feasting on the reserve this autumn! The café hatch has been open, serving hot drinks, cake and sausage rolls from 10am to 3pm. Enjoy a refreshment and take a moment to look and listen for the autumn wildlife, whilst sat on one of our lovely new benches, installed by our volunteers before lockdown began. The new Sprat's Water trail takes in a range of habitats: open grazing marsh, wet woodland and the miniature broads of Sprat's Water.

Sat on a bench around the back of Sprat's Water you can listen for the tinkling of goldfinches at the top of the alder trees, perhaps joined by siskins feeding on the small seeds from the alder cones. Sitting and waiting is the best way to see wildlife, you may also spot flocks of redwings and fieldfares passing through, feeding on berries and adding to the sounds of autumn.

Please remember that dogs aren't allowed through Sprat's Water and they must be on a lead across the rest of the nature reserve.

More drone footage of the reserve, taken this November by John Lord as well as Kevin Coote, shows an amazing bird's-eye view of the watery world which has been created here and makes it clear why so many birds are drawn to the reserve.

Along with the large winter flocks of lapwing and duck, we've seen a number of more unusual wetland birds stopping off for a feast. Recent visitors include: glossy ibis, great white egret, curlew sandpiper and scaup.

Another spectacle of autumn are huge flocks of starlings, which create aerial displays known as a murmurations when they come into roost at dusk. Small murmurations are starting to perform their amazing aerobatic displays across the marshes and farmland fields here at Carlton Marshes, but for the most dazzling displays early in the season head to Hen Reedbeds near Southwold at dusk and wait with the gathering crowd of onlookers. The starlings have moved south now, but this local nature reserve has been providing plenty of lockdown positivity for local nature lovers this November. We're crossing our fingers at Carlton Marshes that the starlings will chose to come here next!

Winter work for wardens continues, creating muddy footdrains and breaking in the new Softrak machine. The Softrak is a tracked cutting machine which is proving a vital bit of kit on the boggy fen and reedbed across the reserve, which is inaccessible for any other vehicle.

Cutting and clearing areas of the reedbed every year is essential to keep it in top condition for the wildlife that lives there. Two pairs of marsh harrier nested in the reedbed this year, along with numerous pairs of water rail and a cacophony of reed, sedge, cetti's and grasshopper warblers. Throughout winter head over to the reedbed for the chance to see and hear bearded tits, one of the most charismatic of reedbed species. They have a distinctive pinging call, which means you know they're there even if you can't see them.