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The Stour Estuary Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) site is an unusual example of woodland immediately next to an estuary.

From here you can capture the amazing selection of wildlife that visits Copperas Bay.

What am I looking at?

The Stour Estuary, is where the River Stour meets the sea as the tide comes in. During low tide the exposed mudflats are home to millions of tiny creatures which are an essential food source for many wading birds.

The woodland enroute to this location consists of ancient woodland flora, with anemones and bluebells in the spring, as well as fungi later in the year.

Probably planted over existing ancient woodland, Stour and Copperas Woods now comprises mostly of sweet chestnut trees, with efforts underway currently to improve the woodland species diversity.

Other trees in the wood include oaksmall-leaved lime and the rare wild service tree. On the woodland floor are many interesting plants, including wood spurgeyellow archangel and bluebells.

What lives here?

Like many estuarine habitats on the Suffolk and Essex Coast, this area thrives with birds such as avocetringed plover and redshank. Migrating birds, including brent geesegrey plover and greenshank can be seen from spring to autumn when they stop to feed.

Stour Wood is home to around 40 species of breeding birds, including treecreeperwren and even the occasional nightingale in spring and summer. In autumn, redwing and fieldfare visit to feed on berries. The woods are home to a vibrant butterfly and moth populations too.

Looking back….

  • Copperas Bay is so named because it was once dredged for copperas, or iron sulphate, which was a vital ingredient in cloth production.
  • The sweet chestnut trees in the wood have been ‘coppiced’ for many centuries.
  • Coppicing is a way of managing woodland by cutting trees and shrubs almost to ground level to encourage many small stems. This practice is maintained to manage the woodland today.

Walks and more

There are some fantastically scenic walks in the area including the 6.7km ‘Woodland and River Ramble’ and the 3.6km ‘Stour Wood Stroll’. View directions in our explorer guide.

Due to the fragile nature of the estuary and its importance for both nesting and non-native birds, the RSPB request that visitors to this Landscape Lens location do not walk down to the foreshore from the bird hides, but instead stick to allocated footpaths.