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Marsh harrier in flight (c) Jon Evans

LIVE YOUR OWN SPRINGWATCH EXPERIENCE

Springwatch 2015 was one of the most enchanting yet, showing us all the wonder of British wildlife, from puffins on the Scottish coast to Spineless Simon, the plucky little stickleback who became the star of Springwatch's first underwater nest cam. This year, Springwatch returns once again to RSPB Minsmere in Suffolk, from where Chris, Michaela and Martin will broadcast the stories of the animals, birds and insects living in 'one of the wildest places in the land.' To celebrate the return of the nation's favourite nature show to our screens, we take a look at all the things you can do on a holiday to Springwatch HQ
Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan Springwatch (c) John Chapman

Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan will be following the lives of animals at RSPB Minsmere
Photo (c) John Chapman

MINSMERE'S MANY HABITATS

It’s RSPB Minsmere’s unique mixture of habitats that makes it such a richly wild place. Across the four square miles of the reserve spreads a mosaic of woodland, marshes, heaths, reedbeds and lagoons. This makes it diverse enough to support the 5,000 species – many of which are exotic migrant birds or rare native animals – that call it home.

FROM DAWN TILL DUSK

You can see and hear different wildlife depending on what time of day you visit Minsmere. Book a place on one of their early morning guided walks and you can watch the sun rise over the glimmering sea, and hear thousands of birds singing together in the dawn chorus. Dawn also sees the otters splashing in the meare, and the last of the night’s badgers heading back to their setts.
 
As the day goes on the reserve becomes a hive of activity. You can watch as the elegant avocets, redshanks, ruffs and other wading birds paddle in the lagoons and sift for food, spot iridescent butterflies and dragonflies flying near the visitor’s centre, or hearing the unmistakable booming sound of a bittern as it creeps through the reedbeds.
 
As dusk begins to fall, you might see Minsmere’s herd of majestic red deer moving in the undergrowth, or hear the churring of tiny nightjars as they swoop low over the heath against a purple sky.
RSPB Minsmere at dawn (c) Mike ReadThe dawn chorus at Minsmere is an unforgettable sound
Photo (c) Mike Read

GETTING INVOLVED IN NATURE

There are plenty of activities to get involved with on the reserve, too. Children will love pond dipping for newts and frogs, building animal dens or learning how to use binoculars and telescopes. Nature lovers of all ages will enjoy learning the basics of birdwatching, or following an RSPB Minsmere guide through the reserve as they point out rare and exciting species. The older generation might find a spring in their step on one of the refreshing Health Walks around the reserve, and the whole family can get excited about Minsmere’s bird ringing demonstrations, craft courses and jeep safaris.
Red stag at RSPB Minsmere (c) Paul SawerGet up close to Minsmere's red deer on a 4x4 jeep safari 
Photo (c) Paul Sawer

WHAT'S IN THE AREA?

As remote as Minsmere may look on BBC Springwatch, this beautiful nature reserve is near some of Suffolk’s best-loved towns and villages on the coast. Quiet and quaint Dunwich with its stunning heath is to the north, as are Walberswick and Southwold, two charming seaside towns great for families, foodies and culture-vultures.
 
To the south is the eccentric village of Thorpeness, with its boating mere and country club; Aldeburgh, home of Benjamin Britten’s world-famous classical music festival, the Snape Proms and the Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival; and Orford, a tiny village with a lot of tasty surprises.
 
Inland you’ll find the villages of Westleton, Yoxford, Peasenhall, Heveningham and Bruisyard, all pretty places to spend a day exploring on foot or by bike, and Framlingham, a historic market town with an iconic castle that was once home to Bloody Mary.
Dunwich heath (c) Malcolm FarrowRSPB Minsmere is surrounded by stunning coastline and charming towns and villages 
Photo (c) Malcolm Farrow

WHERE TO STAY?

On the edge of RSPB Minsmere you’ll find Mill Hill Farm, an idyllic caravan and camping site with its own fishing lake. If you’d rather have a roof over your head, a pint in your hand and a fire crackling in the grate, then a night spent at the Ship at Dunwich, the Anchor at Walberswick or the Westleton Crown would suit you better.
 
There are lots of lovely self-catering cottages along the Suffolk coast, such as 3 Old Homes or Salt Cellar Cottage in Aldeburgh, or the cottages let by Suffolk Secrets and So Southwold. Alternatively, Bruisyard Hall, The Swan Hotel in Southwold or The Brudenell Hotel in Aldeburgh are three of many excellent hotels in the area.
 
Find the perfect accommodation for your real-life Springwatch experience on our Suffolk accommodation page.

CAN'T WAIT FOR SPRINGWATCH?

If you're excited about Springwatch, start planning your own Springwatch Experience today by finding out some of the best ways to Get Into Nature in Suffolk. And don't forget to tell us what you love about Springwatch via FacebookTwitter or Instagram!