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  • Blog Post: Count the legs & divide by two

    Today is apparantly the day that all zoos in the UK carry out their annual stock check. They have to count (and account for) every animal in their collections, from mighty elephants to the tiniest insects. I'm sure it can't be too hard to count the mammals, birds and repiles, but the fish and...
  • Blog Post: Ducks and raptors and reedbed birds

    Water levels are finally beginning to return to normal on most parts of the reserve, with all paths now fully accessible - if a little muddy near the sluice. The Levels are a still looking superb, with shallow floodwater covering the marshes. Huge flocks of ducks are gathering out there, including...
  • Blog Post: Christmas is coming...the goose is getting fat

    Yes folks, Christmas is approaching, and I don't know what to buy. Lots of you obviously do though as Minsmere's visitor centre was a hive of activity over the weekend for our Christmas Fair. Staff and volunteers were on hand to offer advice on buying birdfood , gifts, RSPB chocolate (palm-oil...
  • Blog Post: First impressions

    It's been a long ten weeks since I last visited the old Island Mere Hide, so it was with much anticipation that I headed down to the new hide for a quick look yesterday. And I was not disappointed. The hide looks absolutely superb as you approach up the ramp. This will be a great place to watch...
  • Blog Post: Scavengers, one and all

    Sometimes it's the common species that spring the biggest surprises. So it was at lunchtime today when I strolled down to Island Mere. The scene was, as usual, one of calm serenity. The water was mirror-calm, reflecting the low midday sun such that it was impossible to see the island itself. The...
  • Blog Post: Let the magic begin

    I had another stroll down to the new Island Mere Hide this afternoon to look at the newly installed interpretation, and in the hope of seeing a few good birds. I wasn’t disappointed. As I’ve said previously, I loved the old hide, despite it’s shortcomings, and while I knew its replacement...
  • Blog Post: Happy Christmas

    As another year slowly draws to a close, it's time for my final sightings update of the year. The main news is not much change over the last few weeks. That;s not to say that it's quiet. Far from it. Just that as is usual in mid winter, most of the birds are staying put. An exception was...
  • Blog Post: A good end to the year

    Despite some flooding on parts of the trails, it's been quite a good end to the year at Minsmere. Here's a few of the highlights since Christmas. The first smews have finally arrived, with a redhead and a drake both seen on the Scrape for the last couple of days. If we finally get some cold...
  • Blog Post: Happy New Year - and some great birding already!

    Wow! What a way to start the new year! Here's a few of the highlights from the first three days of the year: seawatching on 1st - slavonian grebe (very rare at Minsmere), velvet scoter , three eiders , 200+ red-throated divers , 50 great crested grebes geese on 1st included 12 tundra beans...
  • Blog Post: Happy New Year

    So another year ends. It's been an exciting one. Here's just a few of the highlights (I'm bound to have missed a few): funding received from Heritage Lottery Fund to allow us to start work on the Minsmere Discover Nature Project. For details of the other funders for this excting project...
  • Blog Post: Otterly amazing

    There can be no doubt from talking to visitors this week that there are two target species for most visitors to Minsmere this week: otter and waxwing. Many people are surprised that otters can be seen during the day, but that is indeed the case, and we have sightings at any of day. They have been...
  • Blog Post: Beans and Bewick's

    Winter wildfowl have been vying with the almost resident waxwings and regular otters for top honours this week. Bewick's swans are always a popular species at Minsmere, even though we only ever see small flocks compared to those in the Fens. Up to 17 have been present for the last month or so...
  • Blog Post: Popular visitors

    Since my last sightings update, the picture has been much the same. Waxwings have been seen in small numbers on most dates, but rarely lingering for more than a few minutes. Bewick's swan numbers have fluctuated between four and eight, and they're commuting between Island Mere and the Scrape...
  • Blog Post: Winter is here

    As I sit here and type the sun is trying to break through the heavy black clouds that have been dumping wintry showers on us all morning. We've had reports of snow and hail in nearby villages, and with a strong northerly wind it certainly feels like winter has arrived. For me, the arrival of winter...
  • Blog Post: A rarity fest

    Firstly, apologies for the lack of an update for the last week - not enough time in the office between meetings and a weekend off are to blame. It's been an excellent few days on the reserve - typically as I've not been out looking for anything. Two groups of birds have stolen the show - raptors...
  • Blog Post: 6000 minus two equals dinner

    Our starling roost was particularly impressive again tonight. Numbers remain at about 6000 birds, but however good we are estimating such big flocks, they were reduced by two tonight thanks to the successful attacks of an opportunistic peregrine ! One theory behind why starlings gather in such numbers...
  • Blog Post: Northern invaders

    With winter's arrival, some of our more exciting winter migrants are beginning to put in an appearance. Waxwings , in particular, are always popular, and there have been many reports from throughout the UK over the last few days. As usual. most are arriving on the east coast before moving inland...
  • Blog Post: Spectacular evening

    What a great way to end a busy day in the visitor centre. At 3.45 pm I headed down to North Hide to check out the growing starling roost. After a gorgeous sunny late autumn day, it was becoming a bit overcast and misty, but the sunset was still impressive, if short-lived. Small flocks of starlings...
  • Blog Post: It's still winter ...

    Hi everyone, We're still in the grip of winter at Saltholme. Last time I blogged, I was hoping that some of the ducks, geese and swans would make their way back to Saltholme, but most of the ponds and lakes are still frozen. At the moment, it's still the tough (they told me to say that) mallards...
  • Blog Post: Saltholme Recent Sightings: 21st December 2012- 3rd January 2013

    Happy New Year and welcome to a bumper edition of the Recent Sightings blog! It was a trio of ducks which stole the show over the festive period. It all began on the 21 st December when a drake Smew was sighted from the Saltholme Pools Hide. The Smew stayed for two days and is the first male to visit...
  • Blog Post: Saltholme Recent Sightings: 30th November- 6th December

    Hi, In a week that saw Bill Oddie pay a visit to present the reserve’s Lifelong Learning Team with a well deserved National Lottery Good Causes Education Award there was also a lot of wildlife action to be enjoyed. Icy conditions and snow forced the wintering Bittern out into the open...
  • Blog Post: Saltholme Recent Sightings: 7th December- 13th December

    Hi, The final WeBS Count of the year was completed during the week. Icy conditions meant that species like Golden Plover had undertaken escape movements meaning numbers were significantly down (17x Golden Plover during WeBS compared to c.2000 a few weeks ago). However there were still plenty of other...
  • Blog Post: Saltholme's winter wildlife moments

    Hi everyone, There've been so many amazing moments at Saltholme over the past two days, I don't quite know where to start. The long-eared owls still provide lots of excitement. There were plenty of beaming faces - complete rosy cheeks - around the visitor centre today. Toby managed to record...
  • Blog Post: December Sightings

    Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all have a great Christmas! Don't forget your garden friends this Christmas - they will be hungry too! What's been about in December at Rye Meads? Well... Draper Hide Mallard, gadwall, crow, magpie, coot, moorhen, water rail, snipe, green sandpiper...
  • Blog Post: Waxwing and bittern!

    Afternoon all! Today we have had great views of the bittern from the Gadwall hide . We have two bitterns onsite, yay! Yesterday one of them was showing nicely from the Ashby hide as well so pop in there, but the one at the Gadwall hide has been seen everyday this week. We also had 10 waxwings...