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This post overlooks heathland that is managed with regular scrub removal. Your photos will help capture the effect of this practice on the growth of newly planted trees.
What am I looking at?
Sutton Heath is a typical lowland heathland which comprises of short acid grassland, heather, gorse, and scattered birch, pine and oak trees. It is also a great place to look for fungi.
Heathlands are artificially created wide, open spaces, where gorse (with little yellow flowers that smell like coconut), bracken, heather and grasses grow.
Without livestock grazing, heathland requires constant management with regular removal of encroaching scrub that continually invades the healthy areas on Sutton Heath.
What lives here?
This area is known for nightjar, a rare ground nesting heathland bird that hunts for moths and insects at dusk and dawn. The male makes a very distinct churring noise.
Areas of acid grassland are great places to see pied and yellow wagtails, as well as numerous rabbits which keep the grass short. Dartford warblers and stonechat can be seen sitting on the heather and woodlark heard singing overhead. Reptiles such as common lizards enjoy the dry, sandy soil. If you visit in the evening, you may see bats above the clearings and deer slipping through the woodland.
Sutton Heath forms part of the Sandlings, an area which was once extensive heathland stretching from Southwold to Ipswich, it was created by farmers who cleared the trees from the light sandy soil.
Much of the heathland is now fragmented and some is lost to invasive trees and bracken, but landowners and conservationists are working hard to restore, maintain and reconnect what remains of this rare and special habitat.
- Heathland was originally created when Stone Age people cleared the wildwood to graze animals, but it is only in the last 100 years that the majority of trees seen here today were planted.
- During World War II, anti-glider trenches were dug to prevent enemy gliders landing on the Heath.
- ‘The Mound’ is an Ancient Monument located within a fenced area, it is an abnormally large rabbit warren, sometimes called a pillow mound, set within a circular earthwork enclosure.
- In the last 100 years, before the true habitat value of heathland was realised, over 90% of the Sandlings heath was lost to forestry plantation, military use, housing and intensive farming
Walks and more
The Sutton and Hollesley Heaths walk is a popular 10.3km route in this area, but Sutton Heath is perfect for a relaxed stroll too.