Situated at the northern end of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths area of outstanding natural beauty and adjacent to the estuary of the river Blyth, Reydon is a perfect place for nature lovers.
The Suffolk Wildlife Trust manages two nature reserves in Reydon; the Hen Reedbed and Reydon Wood. The history of Hen Reedbed is described at the end of this page. View images of the wildlife of Hen Reedbed in our gallery.
Contact details for the local branch of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust are shown in the Clubs and Groups section of the website.
|Starlings at Hen Reedbed
|Bittern at Hen Reedbed
(copyright John Everson)
|Bluebells in Reydon Wood
(copyright Mary Walker)
Also nearby are:
Suffolk Coast National Nature Reserve at Walberswick
National Trust Coastal Centre and Beach at Dunwich Heath
Suffolk Wildlife Trust interest in the the valleys of the Rivers Hen and Wang began in 1975 when an area of land between the A1095 and the River Hen was bought with funds donated by the wife of the late Sir Norman Gwatkin, in whose memory it was named. This was added to in 1999 when the land which was to be developed into the reedbeds which exist today was purchased via the UK Bittern Project funded by the EU Life Programme and The National Lottery. After major ground works the reserve was opened as Hen Reedbeds the following year. Hill Farm Marsh, bordering the River Wang and connecting the existing reserve with Hill Road, Wangford, was added in 2005. This is a grazing marsh rather than a reedbed. Currently designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Protection Area (SPA) and a Ramsar site Hen became part of the Suffolk Coast National Nature Reserve in 2003, an area also including Walberswick Nature Reserve and Dingle Marshes. Hen Reedbeds currently extends over 135 acres (54 hectares).
Bitterns bred on the site within two years of completion and have done so every year since. Between two and six pairs of marsh harriers, recovering from a national low of one UK pair in 1971, breed annually. Other significant annual breeders include six to twelve pairs of bearded tit, thirty pairs of water rail, four or five pairs of Cetti's warbler and up to ten pairs of little grebe. The reserve is also home to otter and water vole. The site has been grazed with konik ponies virtually from the start and also, more recently, with cattle through the summer.
A tidal surge in 2007 over topped the river wall and partly flooded the Wolsey Creek Reedbed. In 2013 another surge punched a hole in the river wall and completely flooded the same area, killing off virtually all the freshwater life which is still recovering. A new sluice enables more effective management of similar situations should they occur in the future. Where possible all infrastructure is now made from recycled plastic and the site is currently being restored via a five year WREN* funded project. A potential project to increase the amount of salt marsh in the estuary next to the river wall is currently under consideration. It is hoped that a new hide, replacing one of the existing hides, will allow views across the river wall into the estuary in addition to the current view of the reserve.
*WREN is a not-for-profit business that awards grants for community, biodiversity and heritage projects from funds donated by FCC Environment through the Landfill Communities Fund.
Article written by Les Tarver, volunteer warden at the Hen Reedbed.