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Minsmere RSPB bird reserve,

set only few miles away from The Ship at Dunwich - hotel, restaurant and pub

Minsmere is rated as one of the top bird sanctuaries in Europe and is the RSPB’s flagship European nature reserve. Minsmere supports an enormous range of bird species, it is particularly famous for its: avocets, bitterns and marsh harriers, and you might catch sight of its otters as well. May and June are particularly good months with nightingales and nightjars providing the greatest interest. With its boundaries being less than few miles away sleeping with your windows open at The Ship at Dunwich could lead to nightingales and nightjars disturbing your sleep!

RSPB Minsmere nature reserve is a short walk or cycle ride from The Ship Inn, hotel, restaurant and pub, though you can of course take the car if you prefer. Look out for red deer and a variety of woodland and heathland wildlife on your way.

The Minsmere visitor centre is the perfect starting point for your visit. Staff and volunteers will direct you to the best places to spot wildlife each day, and you can recharge your batteries in the excellent cafe or browse the RSPB Shop. Many items on the cafe menu are homemade using local, Suffolk products. The Wild Zone is the perfect place for families to explore and discover nature as they climb through sand martin tunnels or build a den.

There’s a choice of countryside walks offering fantastic scenery and wildlife. The Scrape is a shallow coastal lagoon where you can see breeding avocets, gulls and terns in spring and summer, migrant wading birds in spring and autumn and huge flocks of ducks in winter. The reedbeds are home to rare and elusive species such as marsh harriers, bitterns, otters, water voles and bearded tits. With luck you might spot some of these. In the woodlands, listen for nightingales and warblers in spring or watch flocks of tits and finches throughout the year, and keep your eyes peeled for a muntjac or red deer. There’s a superb variety of flowers, butterflies, dragonflies and insects during spring and summer.

Entry to Minsmere is free to RSPB members. There is a charge for non members, which is refunded if you join on the day of your visit. The visitor centre is open daily 9 am to 5 pm (closes 4 pm November to January). There are guided walks and family activities throughout the year.

BBC Springwatch celebrated its 10th anniversary by coming to RSPB Minsmere in May 2014. The BBC plan for Springwatch to return to RSPB Minsmere in 2015 and 2016. You can find more information about Springwatch here.

Robin perched on a twig in a tree at RSPB Minsmere in Suffolk

Little Egret in water at RSPB nature reserve near The Ship at Dunwich in Suffolk