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Fitting tribute to warden of Southwold wildlife site

PUBLISHED: 06:30 12 May 2011

Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Hen Reedbed near Southwold. picture by Steve Aylward.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Hen Reedbed near Southwold. picture by Steve Aylward.

Steve Aylward

A new pool has been created at a secluded north Suffolk nature reserve in memory of the warden who helped establish the site.

What animals live at Hen Reedbeds

• Bittern

• Marsh harrier

• Bearded tit

• Godwits

• Oystercatchers

• Little egrets

• Kingfishers

• Heron

• Sedge warblers

• Damselflies and dragonflies

• Otters

• Water voles

• Tarpan horses from Poland

Hen Reedbeds, on the A1095 between Southwold and the A12, is a mix of reedbeds, fens, dykes and pools which stretches over 135 acres and is home to rare bittern, marsh harriers, bearded tits and water voles.

It was created in 1999 by Suffolk Wildlife Trust to provide a breeding habitat for wildlife after nature lover John Minihane suggested a near-by site was extended.

Mr Minihane, who soon became warden of the reedbeds reserve, worked on and supervised the site up until he died in October last year at the age of 81.

Earlier this year friends and fellow volunteers from the Southwold branch of the trust raised enough money to dig out a new pool in memory of Mr Minihand and the new feature – which is already attracting bittern and other creatures – will be officially opened at 11am on Saturday, May 21.

“John was involved with the Southwold group when it first started back in 1985,” said Ann Lawson, chairman of the wildlife group.

“Even before that he had worked at the north Groton Wood reserve as a volunteer. It was his idea to extend that site which eventually became the Hen Reedbeds.

“He worked on it and supervised it until he died. All of his friends wanted to do something, but he would not have wanted a stone or seat.”

The pool is a fitting tribute to Mr Minihane who donated his body to the James Paget University Hospital for medical research and asked for there to be no funeral.

Within days of it being dug out back in January a bittern was spotted on the water. Elvers – baby eels – have been released on the site and, while birdwatchers visit the reedbeds to see of oystercatchers, little egrets and kingfishers, a small herd of Tarpan horses from Poland also live there and manage the reed by grazing.

• As parking space is limited at the reserve, people are asked to park at Lime Kiln farm. In addition a mini bus will run from Southwold, picking up at the Kings Head, the police station and Reydon corner on Halesworth Road.

Please phone Ann Lawson on 01502 722885 to reserve a seat of the bus.

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