Friday 14 October 2011

Marshland Habitats (1): Snape, Suffolk, UK

David at Snape, first visit for about 20 years

The landscape known as Snape Marshes is managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. The area constitutes a wonderful wetland habitat, bounded by the River Alde in Suffolk.

I spent my teenage years in a village some five miles out of Norwich, close to the home of Norfolk naturalist, Ted Ellis. The marshland at Snape reminded me of Sunday walks on Surlingham Church Marsh, weaving in and out of the reed beds, keeping alert in case a Swallowtail butterfly or a non-native Coypu came into view.

There is something very special about reeds. They sway with the wind and emit a unique fragrance all of their own. There were some workers 'slubbing' (clearing the silted sections of dyke, in a sequence of rotation) with machinery while we were there to ensure that the habitat remains suited to creatures like the Otter.

We ambled out along the track, and turned to look back at Snape Maltings, now a music hall complex with shops and cafes.

If we were fooled by this gallant steed, it was only for a moment ... honest!

What a glorious site! I felt it could be straight out of a Cotman painting. The Thames barge from Harwich wove its way gently and gracefully through the narrow channels.

Suddenly there was a flicker overhead, as a Marsh Harrier (and here) began to hover.

We had seen the best of the daylight, but dusk brings its own rewards - and we THINK this may be a flock of Avocets (and here). I have enlarged and lightened a section of the photograph below in case any of you out there can confirm or refute our attempt at identification!

What an exciting initial foray into the 'wilds' of the beautiful Suffolk countryside. 

Compare with the banner photo here: are these Avocets, I wonder?


Andrea said...

Wow, how wonderful these areas are! The boat with very large sail looks out of place when the river was not seen. It's good they don't get flooded as the river banks are almost of the same level with the ground.

Caroline Gill said...

... and this barge, Andrea, is a half-size one! They are historic sailing vessels. Yes, a beautiful area indeed.

J said...

Looks like a great place to explore, Caroline. Wondered where you'd got to!

Mary said...

My, what a lovely place! That sail is amazing...nothing like that on rivers here. I can see you will be getting lots of great photos here.