Our summer visitors

As you step foot inside our workshop in Aldringham this summer, amongst the sound of our team at work, you’ll hear and see some of our more regular visitors.

Making the longest journey to come and see us are our feathered friends whose birdsong reminds us that summer is almost here.

If you love wildlife, you’ll be in for a treat when you pop by. So, here’s a little hint at what you can expect and when.  

The Cuckoo

Without fail, you can hear the familiar bellowing of cuckoos as they arrive in April and May and stay until July or August.

Their distinctive chime is designed to distract the birds they’re preying on. Quite the interesting character, the cuckoo is what’s called a ‘brood parasite,’ meaning they lay their single egg in the nest of another bird, most commonly the reed warbler.

When the young cuckoo hatches, it nudges the other bird’s unhatched eggs out of the way, leaving the unfortunate mother bird to try and satisfy the insatiable appetite of one huge chick.


Few birds awaken the senses like swifts do as they swarm in during April and May, departing between July and September.

As unbelievable fliers, the sight and sound of screeching swifts through the air is wonderful. Spending almost their entire life on the wing, they sleep and mate in flight, making them quite an enigma.


If you’re wondering how to tell the difference between a swift and a swallow, the swift has long, sickle-shaped wings. 

We’re lucky because we see so many of them from the workshop as they like to nest in nearby buildings.

Sadly though, their numbers are in decline, which is why the Aldeburgh conservation and rescue project is so important. Organisers Alan and Christine Collett rescue injured swifts and encourage local people to install nest boxes at their homes. So, if you take a stroll when you visit us, you’ll know what all the little boxes are.

The Nightingale

The nightingale has one of the sweetest, iconic bird songs that can be heard day and night. It’s quite the jazz melody as it chimes a fast succession of rich high and low notes.

This Sub-Saharan bird is only usually found in the counties of Suffolk, Essex, Kent and Sussex in the UK. To see one is rather special and we consider ourselves fortunate to say that we’ve heard them in Aldringham and on common land near our home in Martlesham.

Here for a short time, between April and September (at the latest), they’re definitely worth listening out for.

The Nightjar

The nightjar is one of our most fascinating summer visitors. Unfortunately, they’re only here for a few weeks in the summer, arriving in late May and leaving by mid-August.

They quite literally blend into the woodland. As masters of disguise, they’re hard to see. As darkness falls though, you may catch a glance of a nightjar silhouetted against the sky as it searches for insects, but you’re much more likely to hear one.

Large-tailed Nightjar

So what do they sound like? As their name suggests, they make a jarring cry, with a male able to cascade up to 1900 notes per minute.

Sand Martins

Swooping in between March and May and disappearing in October is one of our longest visitors, the sand martin.

As nimble flyers, they feed mainly over water and have a distinctive white carriage with a dark brown band across their breast and a short, forked tail.

Sand Martins

If you’re visiting us and fancy exploring the habitat of the sand martin, which takes its name from nesting along sandy river banks, the best place to spot one is RSPB Minsmere. Just a short drive from Vale Deigns’ workshop, there’s lots of wildlife to explore and plenty of places to picnic.


You’ll find plenty of swallows gracing the Suffolk skies when you come to see us. There is no mistaking their long forked tail, red throat, white belly and blue-tinged feathers. They’re strikingly beautiful and they can often be found perched on the telephone wires over the workshop and sometimes nest in an old building nearby.


When they reach us in April and May, they’ve travelled thousands of miles from South Africa to breed, leaving us in October.

It’s a good job that we have a busy workshop that’s awash with its own sounds, otherwise it’d be rather quiet come October. We just wonder what the birds think of us!