Everyone ready to say "aargh! How cute!"? Our second konik foal of the spring was born today, and very cute it looked, rolling around on the bank and staggering on its disproportionately long legs. I have to admit though, that the older foal is probably cuter, as it looks much more in proportion. Both foals, along with the rest of the koniks, were happily chomping through reed rhizomes (the entwined roots) on what we popularly call the konik field (not much imagination needed with that name, although admittedly the koniks can be elsewhere on the reserve, depending on where we need them for management.) The picture below shows a konik foal taken a few years ago - see what I mean about cuteness?
It must be quite a shock to the system for the poor little thing to emerge from mummy’s nice warm womb into the bitter north-easterly blowing across Minsmere today, made even worse by intermittent drizzle.
With such weather conditions, it's perhaps not surprising that there don't seem to be any new arrivals on the bird front, or that very little is singing. The main highlight remains the wing-tagged Montagu's harrier, which continues to hassle gulls and avocets on the Scrape, while searching ofr eggs to eat.
Elsewhere, highlights on the Scrape this afternoon included three common sandpipers, three ruffs, ten turnstones (some in cracking full summer plumage), a winter plumage bar-tailed godwit, a spotted redshank, a pair of pintails, two little terns and increasing numbers of common and Sandwich terns, raising hopes that the latter may choose to breed again. Mediterranean gulls continue to sit on eggs on the Scrape, despite the attentions of the harrier.
A greenshank was on the South levels today. Hobbies continue to feed over the reedbed, though the cold weather is likely to have put a temporary halt to emerging dragonflies. Nightingales are most easily heard near the car park entrance and near North Hide. In the woods, there are singing blackcaps, garden warblers and wrens, with lesser and common whitethroats in the scrub. Reed, sedge and Cetti's warblers are singing in the reedbeds, but bearded tits are alwys tricky to find once the wind blows.
One sure sign that spring is here, despite the cold weather, is the blooming of bluebells in the woods. Though not as numerous at Minsmere as they once were, it's always a joy to see bluebells. Bluebell woods are iconic of the British countryside, yet under threat from various sources - lack of woodland management, overgrazing by deer, illegal collection for sale, hybridisation with Spanish bluebells from gardens. Help us to fight to protect bluebell woods, and much more besides, by signing our Letter to the future.