New protection for wildlife area

IMPORTANT habitat for birds and a host of wild animals on the Felixstowe peninsula has today won special protection thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers.

IMPORTANT habitat for birds and a host of wild animals on the Felixstowe peninsula has today won special protection thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers.

The amateur conservationists have spent the past year on an intensive programme of research, recording animals and plants at Felixstowe Ferry.

Now four areas at the hamlet have been given the status of County Wildlife Sites thanks to the volunteers' studies.

Peter Ling, a member of Suffolk Wildlife Trust and co-ordinator of the project, said the designation meant the sites were classed as having significant wildlife interest, a "wonderful result" which would protect the areas for the future.


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"They fit in with the Suffolk Coasts and Heaths project and are adjacent to the River Deben estuary that is already known as an internationally important site for waders and wildfowl," he said.

"Amazingly this has been achieved by local volunteers and some residents. Two volunteers had a specialist knowledge of birds and plants but most were ordinary people.

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"These are the unsung, often unrecognised, non academic amateurs who have now made a real contribution to science in this area."

One of the areas is on the golf course, another is the Millennium Green in the heart of the hamlet, and the other two comprise the Tomline Wall, currently owned by the Environment Agency.

The wall was built as a flood defence with dykes either side back in 1875 by landowner and entrepreneur Colonel George Tomline and is today part of a circular walk.

The height of the Tomline Wall was increased around 15 years ago and the new habitat has already become established as a haven for hares and small mammals including the water vole – Ratty in the Wind of the Willows – and also foxes, stoats, weasels, field mice and shrews.

Mr Ling said the Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club was working alongside Suffolk Wildlife Trust to manage its areas, which provides habitat for three kinds of reptiles – grass snake, slow worms and common lizard – and an unusual mix of flowers close to the sea. The presence of small mammals was vitally important.

"When these are present you know the rest of the natural balance is in the right place down to the smallest plants and insects," he said.

"Bird life is naturally attracted to the food sources that include plants, seeds, insects and small mammals. There are also excellent nest sites in the reeds and rough areas of the gold courses encouraging reed warblers and sedge warblers near the water and skylarks in the open areas."

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