Wild weather and feeding finches...

Carlton Marshes by Steve Aylward

Wetland birds are loving the new habitats here at Carlton Marshes, with higher than ever counts of duck and waders. Read on for wildlife news from across the Suffolk Broads, Carlton Marshes habitat creation updates, and to hear about the volunteers that make it all happen!

Despite the wild weather, wetland bird species we didn't used to see many of are now turning up at Carlton Marshes regularly including Shelduck, Pintail and Tufted Duck. Tufted Duck are a diving duck species, which means you usually find them in deeper water diving for aquatic plants, insects, molluscs and whatever else they can find to feed on. This is the first year we’ve had enough deep water areas at Carlton Marshes to have larger numbers of these duck, with 40 counted on a recent wetland bird survey. In the last couple of months there have been high counts of other wetland bird species too including 600 Teal, 1500 Lapwing and 150 Gadwall.

Throughout winter you can easily spot large flocks of finches as they move through nature reserves and urban areas. Gunton Meadow is a great place to see large numbers of Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Greenfinch, perhaps with a few Siskin mixed in. Gunton Meadow is a great place to see Bullfinch too with a pair seen there regularly throughout the winter and breeding on the reserve. Bullfinch used to be a common garden bird in the UK but are now rarely seen in the garden and they are on the UK amber list of conservation concern. This is because their breeding population has declined by 39% in the UK since the 1960s. Seeing them in your local area is really special.

Throughout winter field margins can also be a great place to see large numbers of finches. At Oulton Marshes we sow a small area of upland with a wild bird seed mix, which provides food for birds such as Chaffinches. Throughout autumn and winter this area is full of finches and other seed eating birds. Hundreds of Reed Bunting, Linnet, Greenfinches and Goldfinches fly up as you approach. Farmers often sow these mixes, which include plants such as clovers, millets and barley, in field margins and the amount of bird life on our tiny patch at Oulton Marshes demonstrates how important field margins can be for bird populations. 

Winter chainsaw work continues across the reserves. At Lound Lakes we've been joining the warden to thin out trees in an area of plantation woodland, this will allow more light in and hopefully encourage bramble and other plants to grow. At Gunton Warren we've been coppicing an area of old gorse, allowing it to regrow into a dense stand that will be great for birds. And at Gunton Meadow we've been laying a section of hedgerow, again allowing it to regrow into a thicker hedge which will be more suitable for breeding birds in a few years. 

The wild weather has caused some extra work for us too, clearing up fallen trees across paths or leaning into roads. The reserve was closed on Sunday due to high winds and so were others across the county. If you're heading for a walk to Gunton Warren take care of the steep drop down to the beach which has been made worse by the recent storms. The erosion here is clear to see, as well as the importance of the Marram grass which knits the sand together with its deep roots, helping to reduce erosion. You can help to reduce erosion here too by keeping away from this area and sticking to the dunes or walking along the shore.



Ellen Shailes at ellen.shailes@suffolkwildlifetrust.org for more information about volunteering across the Suffolk Broads reserves or

Barry Bradnum at waveneyvalleygroup.swt@gmail.com for more information about the Waveney Valley Wildlife Group

Current volunteering roles:

Dog Ambassador - Carlton Marshes nature reserve and across Lowestoft

Otter monitoring volunteer - Carlton Marshes nature reserve

Learning volunteer - Carlton Marshes nature reserve and across Lowestoft

and more... 

Heritage Fund

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters and a £4 million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, our vision to buy and restore 384 acres of land for wildlife in the Broads National Park is taking flight.