SWYG’s winter walk returned to Surlingham Church Marsh this year. Thirty two people booked in for it and we were blessed with mostly dry weather, thankfully the shower midway along the walk was short lived!

We managed to start a little after 2 pm and decided to split into two groups. Peter’s group walked the circuit around Church Marsh clockwise while Rodney’s did it anti-clockwise. Unfortunately neither group saw or heard very much in the way of birds and other wildlife. Surlingham Marsh is definitely much better as a spring location for a wildlife walk than a winter one.

Saying that we did see or hear at least 17 species of birds if we count the little grebe that David Cannon spotted on the river just before we began. On the river beside the Dabchick we saw a flock of about 20 black headed gulls, 2 mute swans and some 10 greylag geese. Over on the Postwick Marshes there were greylags, rooks, black headed gulls and possibly three common gulls but they were partly obscured by the lie of the land to be sure about the identification.


A rainbow breaks after the downpour

The Marsh lagoon appeared to be devoid of waterfowl. It is possible that because so much of the land has been flooded during this wet autumn and winter that the ducks are spoilt for choice. In the trees, marsh and woods elsewhere along the walk we did see 8 wigeon, some mallards, three robins, blue tits, great tits, a family of long tailed tits, a buzzard, a kestrel, a great spotted woodpecker and a few woodpigeons. Liam in Peter’s group also said he heard a goldcrest in the shrubs near the lagoon. I thought it was indicative of the paucity of wildlife that seeing half a dozen woodpigeons was noteworthy! Was our afternoon walk a foretaste of England in 2050?

One of the most notable wildlife sites was back in the the Ferry’s car park. Rodney’s group arrived back at 3.45 pm just in time to be treated to a murmaration of starlings across the river.


A characterful goldcrest, the UK’s smallest bird. It was a shame not to see one on the walk.

The afternoon was concluded by a get together in the Sulingham Ferry pub where Sonia kindly served us mulled wine and mince pies. Despite the lack of wildlife sightings several people said that they had an enjoyable time. It could be that the milder weather in Europe has reduced the number of birds wintering here at the moment, but who can be sure?

Words by Rodney Aldis