The birds and wildlife of Holywells Park, Ipswich
Above- Green Hairstreak butterflies
I have been watching wildlife in Holywells Park since I moved back to Ipswich in February 2007. The park has provided me with some great nature observations and I have been lucky enough to have seen some rare and both, nationally and locally scarce species of birds, mammals (See Water Vole photograph below), wildflowers, fungi and insects. This website details wildlife sightings and records for the park and the immediate locale under “Wildlife” pages. These “Wildlife” pages are based on both my own observations and contributions from an increasing number of park regulars and I am grateful for their continuing support and input. Special thanks goes to Sarah Kilshaw, local photographer Parrish Colman and Matt Berry and Joe Underwood from the Ipswich Borough Council’s Wildlife and Education Rangers.
Above- Water Vole
Historically, the park has held some rare breeding birds, which sadly, are no longer present in the park and are now generally scarce in Suffolk as a whole. These include species such as Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Spotted Flycatcher, Common Redstart and Turtle Dove. In addition, the park has also played host to some rare species such as Wryneck, Red Backed Shrike, Bittern, Pied Flycatcher, Wood Warbler, Golden Oriole, Yellow-browed Warbler, Marsh Tit and even a Fulmar! The park is a significant location for Mandarin Ducks in South-East Suffolk and at times will hold, what I believe is the entire Ipswich population (circa 30 birds) during the breeding period. The behaviour of these tree nesting wood ducks can be observed throughout the year as Mandarins are normally present in every month within the park.
Above- drake Mandarin Duck
Oversight. The park is overseen by the Parks Department of Ipswich Borough Council (see Links page). The park itself has been open since 1936 and covers some 67 acres of mixed parkland, woods, grassland and water features.
When to visit. The park can get very busy and is popular with dog walkers and joggers all year round. Therefore, for birds it’s generally best to visit the park as early in the morning as possible or just before dusk in order to avoid the crowds. Depending on the weather and species, butterflies and dragonflies start to appear in March all the way through to September/ October.
Access: The park is accessible at all times through the entrance on the Cliff Lane/ Landseer Rd junction, via the footpath along the side of Ipswich Tyres on Holywells Rd or via the footpath opposite the post office on Cliff Lane (follow the canal path and enter the park near to the Canal Pond), and at other times from dawn until dusk through entrances on Myrtle Road (North Entrance), Bishops Hill (North Entrance), Nacton Road (East Entrance) and on Cliff Lane (South Entrance). Please note that the gates are locked promptly at dusk.
Public transport: It’s easy to reach by public transport as the park is on many bus routes to and from the town centre, bus station and railway station. In particular Ipswich Bus services 1 and 3 pass along the Landseer Road edge, the 61 goes along the Nacton Road side and the 6 will drop you at the main Cliff Lane entrance just by the Margaret Catchpole Public House.
If you wish to report any bird or wildlife sightings then I would love to hear from you so that I can include them in the recent sightings pages.