I had idly wondered why the site of the Suffolk Showground near Ipswich was called Trinity Park. Now I think I know.
Trinity College, Cambridge, the largest and richest Oxbridge college, owns a 50% stake in Tesco and a number of highly profitable land holdings including part of Felixstowe Docks, so why not Trinity Park?
Fortunately for wildlife, when Trinity agreed the establishment of one of the largest container docks in the world it also permitted the development of Trimley Marshes on its Searson’s Farm estate. This replaces the habitat lost to the dock. The birds now feed, nest and rear their broods right beneath the huge cranes brought from China for servicing the world’s biggest (Chinese) container ship. The dock is in saline water but the reserve lagoons are supplied with fresh water by an ingenious pumping system and protected from salt incursion by an almost Dutch-sized dyke.
There is parking at Searson’s Farm but the reserve is a two-mile walk away so when Suffolk Wildlife Trust holds a family event with free transit it attracts numerous visitors. The information centre serves drinks, delicious home made cake and has on-hand experts to advise on where to go and what to do. Bird ringing drew people to see rarely more than glimpsed birds – the proverbial “little brown objects” – such as reed warblers, whose non-warbly clatter is usually heard while they remain shadows in the reed beds.
Other experts were in the various hides, ready with identification as necessary and the offer of a telescope for detailed viewing. They would probably have helped children with clues for the quiz that was running all day too.
So what did we see? A swan relaxing just below the cranes seemed chracteristic of the day. Other birds taking the docks for granted included little and great crested grebe, cormorant making the best of both worlds as ever and, in the distance, marsh harrier, buzzard and a hovering kestrel.
Moving to another lagoon we found black tailed godwit feeding almost as busily as the cranes, grey lag geese with goslings, oyster catchers and various gulls. Avocets and lapwing flew in, both spectacular in their black and white display. Coot as ever were about, as well as the brilliantly coloured black, white and cinnamon shelduck.
After a couple of hours that passed almost unnoticeably we decided to walk back along the dyke. Pleasure craft shared the view with other feeding birds before we came almost beneath the cliff-like container dock. Then it was down to prove the cake really was delicious and to see how the bird ringing had progressed. A quick flash of “lbo” reed warblers (though they said there had been sedge warblers too) and it was back to the farm for home.
There is an evening event in August: well worth returning for as there may be badger and fox about as well as the dusk birds and possibly the last chance this year to hear a nightingale.