Animals on Orford Ness
With such diverse habitats, Orford Ness attracts a wide variety of birds, mammals, moths and butterflies. Here is a selection of what you might see during your visit.
The Ness’s Brown Hares
'That's not a hare, it's a horse!' is not an uncommon cry amongst our volunteers. Scattered across the site the hares are most easy to see on the shingle bank from the top of the Bomb Ballistics Building. Be patient and look across the vegetated ridges, waiting for a sudden lolloping movement to catch your eye. If you're lucky, you'll have seen an Orford hare. Often claimed locally as a breed in their own right, the Ness's brown hares certainly tend to be bigger, fatter and healthier than their mainland cousins.
Chinese water deer
Were they drawn by the memory of Chinese Labour Corps stationed on Orford Ness in the First World War? No, they just like our wet wild marshes! Escapees from ornamental deer parks, they've swum the river to a new home.
The characteristic bird of our grazing marshes, marsh harrier nest in the reed marsh in the King's Marsh and Airfield site. In the morning, and again in late afternoon, their slow powerful glide, interrupted by occasional wing beats, can be seen over the wet pasture.
Barn owls nest in a number of the old military buildings. As dusk falls their ghostly silent flight low over the grazing marsh perfectly matches the twilight mood. In the spring they are often visible hunting during daylight hours, looking for food to feed hungry young mouths.
A winter visitor, you might spot them still around early in spring or late in the autumn. They can be seen roosting on ledges. Powerful and inspiring, the fastest living creature on earth is a thrilling sight.