This weekend we are holding our annual Springwatch at Minsmere event, to coincide with the of Springwatch fever to the BBC. Have you been watching the action from RSPB Ynys-Hir in beautiful west Wales?
Ynys-Hir is one of my favourite places to visit, especially in spring, with its wonderful mix of oak woodlands (redstarts, wood warblers, pied flycatchers, bluebells), saltmarsh (little egrets, curlews, geese in winter), and mountains (red kites, buzzards).
Of course, Ynys-Hir does have one major disadvantage for those of us living in Suffolk. It’s an awfully long drive to reach the west Wales coast.
Luckily, the Springwatch cameras allow us all to experience the Welsh thrills and excitement in our own living rooms. It’s great to get such an incredible insight into the lives of some of our common wildlife, as well as rare glimpses of more secretive species such as dipper, red kite and barn owl. Last week's footage of beavers in Knapdale, Argyll was simply superb, too.
While we don't have the TV cameras here at Minsmere, we do have some superb wildlife on offer, and this weekend we're trying our hardest to show visitors some of the key species. The only difficulty has been the autumnal north-east winds. As any naturalist knows, wind can be a major problem, with many species keeping low.
The worst affected this weekend were our bird ringers from the Waveney Bird Club. After battling the elements all morning with very few catches, they sensibly gave up. I'm sure some visitors would have been disappointed, but the birds' welfare and safety must come first. They'll try again tomorrow - if the wind allows.
Some of our star wildlife kept low in the wind, too. Bearded tits were difficult to spot, the purple heron was not seen after 9.40 am, and dragonflies were all hiding somewhere. Luckily, the bitterns have been putting on an excellent display. With about four active nests, at least two of them close to fledging, the females are busy flying around the reedbed in search of food. Marsh harriers are also easy to spot at Bittern and Island Mere Hides. Avocets have chicks on the Scrape so can be reliably seen from any of the Scrape hides, while Mediterranean gulls are easy to spot at West hide. A roseate tern moved between South and East Scrapes. Oh, and Fiona the flamingo remains on East Scrape,where a spoonbill was spotted this morning - another two were visible from the Whin Hill Watchpoint.
I hope the wind eases a little for my nightjar guided walk this evening, and for the second day of our Springwatch weekend tomorrow. Perhaps I'll see you there.