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East Anglia Future 50

Ipswich tops list of urban wildlife hot-spots with over 3,000 species

PUBLISHED: 11:19 28 February 2019

Mabel the tawny owl in Christchurch Park  Picture: Julie Kemp

Mabel the tawny owl in Christchurch Park Picture: Julie Kemp

(c) copyright citizenside.com

Ipswich is home to more species of wildlife than any other major town or city in the East of England, a new study has revealed.

The River Gipping running through Ipswich supports a lot of wildlife Picture: Janice PoulsonThe River Gipping running through Ipswich supports a lot of wildlife Picture: Janice Poulson

According to figures drawn from the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) atlas, 3,709 species can be found in Suffolk’s county town including 1,605 species of insect, 193 bird species, 38 species of mammal and 23 species of fish.

This tally saw Ipswich top a list drawn up by Farawayfurniture.com, which collated data from the NBN atlas’s ‘explore your area’ tool by setting the radius to 2km and selecting the major cities and towns found in the region.

READ MORE: Wildlife ‘struggling’ with warm weather

River work party by Ipswich Wildlife Group and River Action Group along the Alderman Canal and River Gipping in Ipswich.River work party by Ipswich Wildlife Group and River Action Group along the Alderman Canal and River Gipping in Ipswich.

Colin Hullis of Ipswich Wildlife Group says he’s not surprised by the findings and says Ipswich has over 40 wildlife sites within its boundary.

Soon adds up

A beautiful autumnal day in Belstead Brook ParkA beautiful autumnal day in Belstead Brook Park

“If you think of the number of parks for a start - Christchurch Park, Holywells Park, Chantry Park and Bourne Park - all of these are huge parks and have wildlife areas,” he said.

“Then there’s Belstead Park, which has Spring Wood, which is an ancient woodland and Kiln Meadow, which was at one time home to one of the largest toad colonies in the country. There’s a toad patrol going on there at the moment and you can see all kinds of amphibian life there, such as frogs and newts.

“There’s dormice, nightingales, otters, grass snakes, trout and evidence of water voles has been found - all in one small area. Once you start counting, it soon adds up.”

Lowestoft was found to be the second most species-rich urban area in the study with 2,435 species, while Bury St Edmunds came third with 2,430. Colchester was shown to be home to 1,267 species, Norwich has 814, while Thurrock and Clacton-on-sea seem to be the least biodiverse with 201 and 256 species respectively

Volunteers for the  Ipswich Greenways Countryside Project and the Friends of Belstead Brook Park carrying out conservation workVolunteers for the Ipswich Greenways Countryside Project and the Friends of Belstead Brook Park carrying out conservation work

Volunteers

Mr Hullis said wildlife can be found all around Ipswich, even right in the centre and pointed to Alderman canal next to Portman Road as one example.

Members of the Greenway Project and volunteers helping to clean-up the Alderman Canal nature reserveMembers of the Greenway Project and volunteers helping to clean-up the Alderman Canal nature reserve

“There’s an area there where more than 100 southern marsh orchids regularly grow. I’ve seen muntjac deer, kingfishers and mullet there – all within 100 yards of the football ground.”

He said nesting peregrine falcons on the Waterfront and Orwell Bridge, and Mabel, the well-known tawny owl who lives in an oak tree in Christchurch Park, were other examples of Ipswich’s rich and diverse wildlife offering.

READ MORE: Could wallabies be about to colonise north Essex?

People power also plays a part, he said, with a number of nature groups including the Greenways Countryside Project, Ipswich Wildlife Group, The RSPB and Suffolk Wildlife Trust all working to help wildlife and look after habitats in the town

“Ipswich seems to be very strong in terms of the volunteer force it can muster,” added Mr Hullis.

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