Lackford Lakes lie beside the River Lark and have been created from former gravel pits. Lackford Lakes is a wonderfully diverse reserve with meadows, woodland, reed beds and streams.
Over a period of years from the 1970’s, the deposits of sand and gravel were extracted by RMC (later to become CEMEX), creating a series of lakes along the valley. What had formally been grazing marshes alongside the River Lark were rapidly becoming a complex wetland as each of the exhausted gravel pits flooded. Large inland wetlands are unusual in our modern landscape, and with Lackford located on a major ‘flyway’, the Trust worked closely with RMC to design a wetland that, following the gravel extraction, would be a rich and diverse habitat for birds.
By 1997, Lackford had become such an important place for both over-wintering wildfowl and dragonflies and damselflies that it was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. In 1999, following the completion of all aggregate extraction, RMC transferred ownership to the Trust. What followed was the transformation of the site into a people-friendly nature reserve. The visitor centre, car park, hides and trails were the first stage in making the wildlife at Lackford more accessible to visitors. The diversity of habitats meant that Lackford was not only a birders’ paradise but an ideal place for outdoor learning.
What continues to make Lackford Lakes such as extraordinary place to visit is simply how close you are to the wildlife. Whether it is tree sparrow on the feeders just a few metres from the visitor centre windows, the kingfisher sitting on a perch right in front of a hide or the spectacle of thousands of starlings overhead as they come in to roost. A superb site for wildfowl in both winter and summer, Lackford attracts tufted duck, teal, pochard, gadwall, shoveler and goosander. There is a large winter gull roost which can hold as many as 28000 birds. Passing birds of prey include the majestic osprey, whilst buzzard and sparrowhawk can be seen regularly. Almost any migrant bird can turn up - black tern are regulars but species like little egret and the more uncommon waders are also seen.
Lackford Lakes has a thriving visitor centre with regular activities ranging from bird watching courses, to art exhibitions, to family activity days. The reserve is free to visit and open year round. Suffolk Wildlife Trust is the county’s leading environmental charity and is supported by more than 26,000 members – joining the Trust is the best way to show your support for their conservation activities. Find out more at: