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This post overlooks the Stour Estuary, capturing changing saltmarshes and the hive of bird activity which takes place here all year round.

What am I looking at?

This part of the River Stour was formally incorporated into the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape in 2020, meaning the protected area now spans both Suffolk and Essex.

Estuaries are where the river meets the sea, meaning they have high and low tides.  During low tide, exposed mudflats are home to millions of tiny creatures which are an essential food source for many wading birds.

Mudflats have a distinctive smell, like rotten eggs, that comes from bacteria in the mud being exposed during low tide.

Salt marsh develops closer to dry land and supports a variety rare plants. More species occur at the highest part of the marsh where they are exposed to salt water for a shorter time.

What lives here?

The salt marshes and mudflats of the River Stour are home to thousands of birds, including avocetringed plover and redshank. Migrating birds, including brent geesegrey plover and greenshank can be seen in the spring, late summer and autumn as they stop to rest and feed. Black-tailed godwit breed in Iceland and arrive in Mistley from August.

You will also encounter the famous Mistley Swans, who have lived in Mistley since the 17th century, feeding on barley that blew off barges on the River Stour estuary. They have recently been joined by striking Australian black swans, of which there were thought to be just 37 breeding pairs in the British Isles in 2012.

Looking back…

  • The road now known as ‘The Walls’ was a causeway, built across the large stretch of marshland, as it was an important highway between London and the military port of Harwich in Elizabethan times.
  • Mistley has a rich and interesting past, including Matthew Hopkins the Witchfinder General, the formidable Rigby family who owned Mistley Estate, who over the years enabled the Estate to both flourish and fall into decline.
  • It was Richard Rigby who called in architect Robert Adam to re-design the existing medieval church.
  • Today the towers are all that remain of the church at Mistley but are of considerable architectural significance – one of only two churches designed by Robert Adam

Walks and more

Why not visit our next Landscape Lens photo post at RSPB Stour Estuary in Wrabness? It is just over 8km away and will take approximately 2 hours at a steady pace!