Inspired by the compelling Humans of New York photo blog (http://www.humansofnewyork.com/) that tells the heart warming stories of people in New York we decided it was time to tell your stories during Springwatch. We’re exploring who is visiting Minsmere & why and what it means to them to be in a spectacular place for wildlife.
Each day we will post a new #humansofspringwatch photo blog. The blog will feature a person/people who have been at Minsmere during Springwatch, along with a short quote from them about themselves, why they have come to Minsmere, and what nature means to them.
They could be a staff member or volunteer, person of any age visiting the reserve, BBC crew or VIP guest- you name it, we’ll do it!
Humans of Springwatch will go out on RSPBMinsmere Twitter and RSPB Suffolk Facebook page, as well as being reproduced for the regional paper during the 3 week broadcast period.
Do you recognise these humans of Springwatch?
Photo credit: John Chapman
Martin: “I’m looking forward to slightly more odd things. We’re going to be using a blimp in the skies above Minsmere, which will be exciting!”
Chris: “It’s going to be better than it was last year because I know it a little bit better and I know what time the best cakes are put out in the cafe.”
“I called Minsmere the Disneyland of wildlife because it offers a great range of resources to a great range of wildlife.”
Michaela: “This year I’m very excited. It’s fantastic to come back knowing we’re going to visit old favourites again, then there are surprises and the drama of what we might see.”
Welcome to the first Nature Minute, a special series of video blogs we'll be sharing over the next three weeks while BBC Springwatch is with us here at Minsmere.
While the Springwatch cameras allow us a fascinating glimpse into the intimate details of the lives of breeding British wildlife for three weeks this spring, a small group of RSPB volunteers has helped to produce a series of one minute films introducing some of the characters you might see on your television in the coming weeks (and some you might not), the places they live, the struggles they face and how they are being overcome, and, importantly, what we can all do to help.
You can follow Nature Minute on Twitter @RSPBMinsmere #natureminute
on Facebook: RSPB Suffolk
on the Nature Minute playlist on the rspbvideo Youtube channel
Or just watch it here!
Now otters, you may be thinking, are not birds- and you’d be right. But nature reserves, whether they are managed by the RSPB, Wildlife Trusts or a local community group, are all home to a whole host of creatures: mammals, birds, reptiles, plants, invertebrates, fish. Otters are one of the most fascinating and enthralling inhabitants of Minsmere, and one of our best-known native mammals.
Otters are in the same family as weasels, stoats and ferrets, but unlike their close relatives, they are most at home in and around water- although they are comfortable on land too. As predators, they hunt in the water, eating fish, eels, crayfish, and even water birds like coots and ducks, and they have some special adaptations that help them: their feet are webbed (like a duck’s) and they can close their ears and nose when they dive under the water.
An otter swimming with its nostrils and ears open above the water. Photo: Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
Historically, otters have been through a severe crash in numbers in the UK- in the 1950s and 60s- due mainly to pollution of our rivers and drainage and loss of wetland habitat, but human persecution was also a problem. By the 1970s you had to travel to Scotland to see otters in the UK, but today, thanks to legal protection, cleaner rivers and extensive efforts to restore wetlands and riverbanks, their numbers have increased and you can see them in rivers and wetlands all over the country.
While most people will know what an otter looks like, far fewer will have seen one in the wild- in a nature reserve or at their local river. At this time of year, many adult otters will be looking after their young cubs (or pups) inside their ‘holt’- an otter’s underground burrow. But they can still be seen coming out to find food and soon the cubs will be starting to venture out themselves for the first time.
There are lots of places you can go to see otters in the East of England, where we are not short the odd wetland or two, and elsewhere in the UK. They aren’t just found in freshwater either, and are equally at home in the seas around our coast and in coastal estuaries. And if you are on the Suffolk coast, Minsmere itself has one of the best otter viewing spots in the ‘Island Mere Hide’.
Find out more about otters: http://www.mammal.org.uk/species-factsheets/Otter
Follow @RSPBMinsmere on Twitter
Find out about the RSPB’s activities on the RSPB Suffolk Facebook page
Find out everything you need to plan your visit to Minsmere on the reserve home page
This morning we welcomed the local media to the Discovery Centre to meet the BBC Springwatch presenters - Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games - in advance of the show going on air from Monday.
It was lovely to see a couple of families playing in the wild zone when the presenters went outside to chat to individual reporters. A couple of very lucky children took the opportunity to say hello to all three presenters - a moment they won't forget. We were given a sneak insight into some of the stories that will covered on the programme. Without spoiling it too much, you can expect to see our badgers, adders and a variety of nesting birds, as well as wildlife stories from around the UK.
The show goes on air on Monday, 25 May, at 8 pm on BBC Two, followed by Unsprung on the red button at 9 pm. You can also watch on the red button from early on Monday morning, for the next three weeks.
The Springwatch studio
As last year, Minsmere is open as usual throughout the broadcast period. We'll have an overflow car park open, when needed, with a secondary reception, and extra toilets both there and at the visitor centre. The pop-up cafe returns to the woods near South Belt Crossroads, and will remain open until 6 pm - an hour and a half after our cafe closes - so you can enjoy an evening cuppa.
We also have extra volunteer guides around the reserve, at key hotspots, to help you to spot some of the wildlife stars of the series, and Minsmere's other amazing wildlife. The guides are there to help, so stop and have a chat if you see them.
The only restrictions on access will be temporary closures whilst the programme is on air - especially the temporary path up Whin Hill. All other areas should remain open at all times.
As we anticipate it being busy at times, we recommend arriving as early as possible - we are open from dawn every day.
There is, of course, lots to see. Highlights today included the now long-staying red-necked phalarope on East Scrape, two spoonbills on the Levels, lots of bittern, bearded tit and hobby sightings, avocet chicks on West Scrape and the little ringed plovers nesting on West Scrape. Other birds on the Scrape included little and Mediterranean gulls, little and common terns, black-tailed godwits and kittiwakes, while a peregrine was over the Levels. A holly blue was an unusual butterfly sighting this afternoon and the first variable damselflies are now on the wing.