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Suffolk Tourist Guide

RSPB Havergate Island

RSPB Havergate Island is located close to Orford and Woodbridge on the River Ore, and is famous for its breeding avocets and terns, which can be seen throughout the spring and summer. In autumn and winter, the island provides a haven for large numbers of ducks and wading birds, and brown hares are abundant. Boasting five hides and a viewing screen, there's great scope for birdwatching on the Island. A trail cuts through the island, allowing walkers to enjoy a gentle mile and a quarter stroll across it.

Access to the island is only via a boat trip from Orford Quay at 10 am on first Saturday of every month. We can cater for a maximum 12 of people so pre-booking is essential – please contact the RSPB Minsmere nature reserve for bookings and tours.
The island is also open on selected weekends for special events - see our events section for details

Seasonal highlights
Havergate Island offers a variety of experiences depending on the season. In spring, the air is filled with birdsong as competition to establish territories and attract a mate is the order of the day. In summer, look out for young birds making their first venture into the outside world. Autumn brings large movements of migrating birds - some heading south to a warmer climate, others seeking refuge in the UK from the cold Arctic winter. In winter, look out for large flocks of birds gathering to feed, or flying at dusk to form large roosts to keep warm.

RSPB Havergate

Photo - Andy Hay

The brown hares on the island are most active in early spring. Wading birds and ducks display and nest on the islands in the lagoons. Flowering thrift turns the saltmarshes pink. Common terns, with a few sandwich terns, return to breed.

Grassland butterflies, such as skippers, small coppers, wall and meadow browns and gatekeepers, are common. Migrating wading birds stop off on the lagoons to feed and roost. Wheatears can be seen on the paths and shingle in late summer.

Sea aster comes into flower on the saltmarshes in the autumn, and the numbers of winter wildfowl start to increase. Wading birds, such as spotted redshanks pass through on migration. Short-eared owls hunt for mice and voles along the river walls.

By mid-winter, the numbers of wigeon, pintail and teal peak. Birds of prey such as short-eared owls and marsh harriers hunt over the island. Common seals can occasionally be seen in the river.

Access to Havergate Island is by RSPB boat only. Boats depart Orford Quay at 10 am on the first Saturday of each month from August to April, and are restricted to 12 places so early booking is essential. The boat trip takes 20 minutes, and you will have about 4.5 hours on the island. In addition, there are several event weekends per year when up to four trips take place each day. For details of these events, please see RSPB Minsmere.

We can also offer a range of events, including the popular 'Photography Days' and the 'Big Wild Sleepout' in partnership with 'Wild Adventures under Suffolk's Skies' and five other local businesses.

For information on Orford please see our Guide to Orford.
For accommodation in Orford please see Orford Accommodation

Other RSPB Nature Reserves include--
RSPB Minsmere
North Warren
RSPB Lakenheath Fen

For more birdwatching locations, check out Birdwatching in Suffolk.

Have you visited RSPB Havergate Island? Please send us your reviews and comments to
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About the author - Sarah Quinlan is the owner of the Suffolk Guides. You can follow her on Twitter @SarahinSuffolk or Google+
Suffolk Tourist Guide
Suffolk Tourist Guide