Suffolk Wildlife Trust
Tucked away a short distance from the endless horizons of the Suffolk Broads nature reserve, North Cove is Broadland in beautiful miniature.
Parking on the road, the reserve is a short walk over the railway line and into a quiet world of grazing marsh, wet woodland, pools and dykes that in summer fizz with dragonflies.
Watch out for characteristic marsh plants like ragged-robin and yellow rattle (so named because the dried seeds rattle in their pods) along with the nationally scarce marsh fern, which is thriving here. Bog pimpernel occurs in the meadow and opposite-leaved golden saxifrage can be found near the old decoy pond – a legacy of when this spot was part of a 19th century shooting estate.
Ironically, this remnant of a lost wetland landscape, which is owned by the Blower family but managed by the Trust and the Beccles Bird Club, probably owes its continued existence to hunters. It was this interest that likely ensured the survival of the alder-carr woodland that once fringed the entire Waveney valley and prized game species like woodcock.
But as well as woodcock, who can be seen zig-zagging between the trees, the woodland is also now a sanctuary for warbler, siskin, redpoll and all three types of woodpecker. The patient and the lucky may also glimpse sparrowhawks hunting in dense cover - flying on razor-like wings with their brown-barred chests almost touching the ground.
Whether in summer – when you can expect to see an abundance of flowers, basking grass snakes and numerous invertebrates on the wing or in winter when flocks of siskins cloud round alders – it is well worth setting aside an hour or two to take in this secret patchwork of protected wildness.