I was exploring ways of celebrating our charismatic wildlife species here in Suffolk and how to share this celebration of nature with the local community as well as those visiting the county. The Big 5 is a perfect way to do this! It is an internationally recognised term that originates in Africa referring to desirable species to view on Safari there (Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Elephant and Buffalo).
Following discussions with safari guests, local students and the wildlife community this is the species that were decided upon ….
Introducing the Suffolk Big 5
Brown Hare Lepus europaeus
Hares are often mistaken for a rabbit yet the two species are in fact strikingly different for example rabbits use burrows whereas hares spend their time above ground. Hares can reach speeds of up to 45mph!
Red Fox Vulpes vulpes
You may not always see one but we are sure you are never too far away from a fox! Whether in the countryside or in the towns and villages foxes are widespread throughout the county. We are increasingly seeing foxes coming into towns and cities across the country and Ipswich, the county town of Suffolk is no exception to this. Although generally being crepuscular they can be seen during the daytime also as they tend to their young of forage for the next meal.
European Badger Meles meles
The badger, the country’s biggest land predator, is arguably the most iconic species of the United Kingdom and holds a place close to many peoples hearts as we grew up reading stories of Badger in Wind in the Willows & Animals of Farthing Wood. They are the most challenging species to see on our list due to their shy nature and nocturnal habits but with a little patience and observing from a respectful distance they are able to be seen at many locations around the county.
Owl (Multiple species)
Owls have long been central to English stories and folklore and are the only non-mammal that make up the Suffolk Big Five. There are 5 species of owl that can be seen in Suffolk; Barn Owl, Tawny Owl, Little Owl, Short-eared Owl and Long-eared Owl. Of these 5 the Barn Owl and Little Owl are most often seen due to being more active in the daytime (especially Little Owls) plus being resident year round.
Deer (Multiple species)
There are 5 species of deer that can be seen in Suffolk; Red Deer, Fallow Deer, Roe Deer, Muntjac and Chinese Water Deer, the two latter species having escaped from private hunting grounds centuries ago and are now a common sight in the Suffolk countryside. Found in a host of habitats from woodland to open fields and even in our towns and villages the best time to try and spot them is at dawn or dusk as they are a crepuscular species.
Want to come and see the Suffolk Big 5?