Thorpeness - Site guide


A Map of Thorpeness and a photographic tour.

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Car park and entrance track.

This area can be good first thing as migrants move through the bushes that run along the east side of the entrance track towards the car park area and beyond. The allotments at the southern end of the track are also very good, especially on an easterly as you are viewing the sheltered side. Pallas's and Icterine Warbler have all been found here as have Spotted and Pied Flycatchers. Various other common warbler species can be found feeding on the elder bushes. The track itself is a good place to spot Yellowhammers, which are resident in the area. Woodlark can sometimes be found on the western side during the spring. Also along the entrance track is a small field on the eastern side and depending on whether it is fallow or being used depends on the species to be found. In a fallow state it is a good place for Tree and Meadow Pipits during the autumn as well as Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer and Greenfinch.  The big bush near the entrance gate is a magnet for birds but its thick cover means it is difficult to find species but it has held, Yellow-browed Warbler in the past and Nightingales favour this bush in the spring. Goldcrests can often be heard calling from its depths during migration times.

1- Car park and entrance track

Middle section and Hawthorn tunnel.

This is one of the best areas of the site as no matter what the wind direction it offers some protection. Evenings are best when the late day sun illuminates this section. Birds found here have included numerous Yellow-browed and Pallas's Warblers as well as Red-flanked Bluetail, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Raddes Warbler, Greenish Warbler, and Siberian Chiffchaff. The birds most likely to be encountered however are Lesser, and Common Whitethroats, Chiffchaff, Willow Warblers, Blackcap, Garden Warbler and in the winter Bullfinch and thrushes. Its often well worth standing patiently under one of the sycamores and wait to see what comes in. Green and Great spotted Woodpeckers are regularly recorded in the area despite the scarcity of mature trees.

2- Hawthorn tunnel

Hawthorn and brambles.

The mixed scrub area of hawthorns and brambles at the southern end of the caravan park is excellent early morning before dog walkers etc. arrive, With the early morning sun hitting the bushes from first light this is often the liveliest area first thing with birds warming themselves and feeding. A semi resident flock of Greenfinches is often present and Lesser and Common Whitethroats both breed in small numbers. During migration times this area can often hold a good selection of common migrants and species like Redstart and Balckcap often favour these bushes. Scarcities have included a few Barred Warblers and Red-backed Shrikes and looks prime for a Wryneck. As autumn progresses the numbers of Robins, Dunnocks, and Blackbirds increase, supplemented by continental migrants with Fieldfare and Redwing common in late October early November, with the occasional Ring Ouzel mixed in.

3- Scrub to the southern end

The sea.

A look out to sea is well worth the effort during a good blow, with north-to-north east wind being best. The usual suspects are often seen and include Arctic, Great and Pomarine Skua, Manx and Sooty Shearwater, Gannet and Fulmar. Scarcer species recorded in recent years have included Long-tailed Skua, Balearic Shearwater, Sabine's Gull, Puffin and Storm-petrel.
During the winter months a selection of divers, grebes, and winter ducks can be found offshore with Great crested Grebes, Red-throated Diver and Common Scoter resident over the winter period with the occasional, Black and Great Northern Diver, Velvet Scoter and Long-tailed duck joining them, the latter species becoming less than annual.
A good autumn storm can produce Leach's Storm-petrel and Little Auks, but as with other sites along the Suffolk coast, numbers depend on conditions and time of year.

4 - View from the bench, good seawatching spot!

The Common.

The open area that runs along the eastern edge of the caravan park is again best early morning before it is disturbed. Little is found here out of migration times, although the local Stonechats can often be seen during the summer months. Those species favouring this patch during migration include Pied, White and Yellow Wagtail, Meadow and Tree Pipit, and Northern Wheatears use the area occasionally. The scrub to the east can hold migrant warblers during the first few hours of daylight before they move inland and Red-backed Shrikes seem to favour this cliff edge. The fence line to the north provides good perches for Redstart and Warblers to flycatcher from. Green Woodpeckers can sometimes be seen anting out on the common. This area is a good place to stand and watch visible migration taking place with flocks of passerines passing straight overhead.

5 - Open area to the northeast

The bushes to the northwest.

Much like the scrubby area to the south of the caravan park, this area is bathed with early morning sun and as such warblers are often seen sunning themselves before the day gets going. Again Lesser and Common Whitethroats are the commonest species but Blackcap and Garden Warblers are often found. Goldcrest and Firecrests prefer this area as well and often mix with the local Tit flock as autumn progresses. Scarcities in these bushes have included Dusky, Barred, Marsh, Icterine, and Yellow-browed Warbler and it certainly has potential, but often requires patience, as birds can be unwilling to come out to some of the exposed bushes.

6 - Northern bushes, good early morning.


The beach area is getting better and better each year with a good selection of brambles, low growing shingle plants, marram grass and bracken providing cover for several species. As you walk north along the beach you pass these area and species found during the summer months include Linnet, Stonechat and Whitethroat.
Migration periods provide the widest range of species with Wheatear and Whinchat especially favouring this area, whilst this year a pair of Turtle Doves have regularly been seen feeding on the back of the beach.  Phyllosscopus warblers often seek shelter in the bracken, whilst Redstarts use the brambles as lookout posts. This area is looking good for lapland and snow buntings or a rare wheater, pipit or lark.

7 - Beach(looking north towards Sizewell)