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February, 2016

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An hour to spare was just enough to start the Deben riverside walk towards Old Felixstowe, not that we had any intention of going the whole way. We set sights on a blackthorn tree in blossom, perhaps a mile off on the footpath but not much above half that if a crow could fly straight into the stiff wind that was blowing from the estuary.

Even without the wind – probably just a breeze to the boating people – we were in no hurry; there were lapwing and ringed plover to see as well as the usual range of gulls. The pontoons make a good resting place for them between food forays.

The further from Woodbridge the wider the townscape appears. It’s well worth looking back as much as forward. Across the river white houses stand out below the slopes from Sutton Hoo, sometimes part of the curving river-scape and sometimes in retrospect.

There was a curlew busy amid the shallows, dividing its time between water and mud, and further along a small group of wigeon following an inlet towards the main stream then back: good foraging all round.

For those who prefer an even more leisurely stroll than ours there are benches every 100 metres or so, some approached down the bank others by broad steps. Tolerably mobile people can certainly manage them and gain good views, with birds coming in or setting off. Inland, across the reedbeds and marsh there were cattle being let out to graze, clearly an attraction to families coming that way to the river.

Turning back we found rapid wind-assisted progress and returned in good time for a cup of coffee before the relay of Jonas Kaufmann’s wonderful Puccini concert from La Scala. Not that the return is to be denigrated. When works are complete there will be a continuous route to the Tidemill; that will make an even more varied route. As it was we had time to see if not photograph a herring gull raid on someone’s bag of scraps it was going to be given anyway. The black headed gulls seemed to want no part of that, whether eating scraps or snatching from bags.

We promised ourself a long walk when the weather improves, taking a bus either to Woodbridge or Old Felixstowe and walking to the other, then a bus home. That is a realistic prospect that I hope to review later in the year.


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