Wildlife in the Essex and Suffolk Countryside

Our countryside properties offer a rich environment within which wildlife can live and flourish. National Trust Rangers work all year round to manage the land and encourage birds, animals and reptiles to stay or return.

Developing ‘The Wetlands’

The Lapwing is a sub-family of medium sized wading birds which include Plovers and Dotterels. As a ground nesting bird, it favours good views around its nest site. It is also distinctive in its flight and wing shape, as well as the black crest on its head. This bird is one of many seeing its population in decline. 

Lapwing are protective parents, so are defensive of their eggs and chicks. They are often seen diving at and harassing predators to distract and deter them. Another trick they use is to visit false nesting sites as a decoy if they are being watched. 

For decades, these birds have seen their habitat dried out and drained to allow for more farming and crops. Through Countryside Grant Schemes we see support in managing land to allow it to ‘wet up’ and stay wetter for longer, creating better habitat for wading birds. We have done this with some of our land at Flatford in the Dedham Vale. We call these fields ‘the Wetlands’ and they are located next to the River Stour. On the opposite side of the river the land is being managed for wetland birds with much of it linked to the RSPB.  It made sense to work in a similar fashion to our neighbours and provide a few more hectares to our wader bird communities.

Over the years we have seen many swans, ducks, and geese on the fields, and sometimes other visitors, such as herons and egrets. A positive result of our efforts is that this year, for the first time, we have seen Lapwings on the fields on multiple days. 


These tuneful birds have once again made their long journey from West Africa back to their breeding grounds and it is always exciting to hear them at Danbury Common, Lingwood Common and Blakes Wood. It is especially encouraging to hear them using the coppice in Blakes Wood this year, which bodes well for the future as more and more of the recently coppiced areas become suitable habitat for them.

Other regular visitors

Adders have also been making an appearance in their usual spots. It is always reassuring to go back year after year and see the same individuals time and time again. Where you find adders you often find slow-worms too, they are always lovely to see. Lizards are in evidence, but have only been spotted so far this year by a swish of a tail.