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  • 24 November 2015

    A little auk(ward) wind

    What a difference a few days makes. this time last week temperatures were still in double figures, but the strong northerly wind on Saturday saw a marked drop in temperatures, accompanied by a scattering of snow in Suffolk on Sunday morning and the first proper frost of the year yesterday. It's a little milder again today though rather wet underfoot in places.

    Whenever a strong northerly wind blows in November, thoughts turn to windblown seabirds putting in an appearance along the East coast. A few dedicated seawatchers will wrap up warm, find a suitable vantage point, and spend several hours staring out to sea in search of storm-blown seabirds. And in November, one of the target species is the diminutive little auk.

    Little auks are tiny relatives of the much more familiar puffins, guillemots and razorbills that nest on sea cliffs in northern and western Britain. Little auks are also colonial nesters, but they share their breeding cliffs with glaucous gulls and arctic foxes around the high Arctic - as seen in a recent episode of The Hunt on BBC One. They move south in winter, but only usually as far as the edge of the arctic sea ice. 

    When climatic conditions dictate a period of strong northerly winds, some of these tiny seabirds are blown hundreds of miles farther south than usual and can be seen flying south along the UK's coasts. A few may even turn up inland, having accompanied flocks of migrating starlings or simply become disorientated by the storm. Saturday was a classic little auk day, and several were duly seen along the Suffolk coast. 

    Once the wind subsided a little on Sunday, most of these little auks reorientated themselves, returning north towards the sea ice, allowing more birdwatchers the chance to spot one. At least eight little auks were spotted from Minsmere beach on Sunday - some flying north, others resting on the sea. By yesterday they had all gone.

    Two little auks photographed at Minsmere a few years ago

    Like many species of Arctic wildlife, little auks are threatened by the impacts of climate change. Rising sea temperatures affect the distribution of fish, while melting Arctic ice will make some breeding cliffs more accessible to ground predators. You can read more about how climate change is affecting our wildlife, and what the RSPB is doing to help by clicking here. With world governments meeting in Paris next month to for a global conference on climate change, this is a significant time for the future of wildlife and people.

    It wasn't just little auks seen over the weekend either. Large numbers of gannets have been seen offshore over the last few days along with several brent geese and common scoters, odd eiders and red-breasted mergansers and flocks of commoner ducks and wading birds.

    The northerly winds also brought with them a few small flocks of starlings, redwings and blackbirds, and a couple of snow buntings arrived on the beach (though they couldn't be found today. The first two white-fronted geese of the winter flew over the sluice on Sunday too.

    Elsewhere, the Scrape continues to attract lots of ducks and gulls - the latter have included four Caspian, two yellow-legged, two common and a Mediterranean gull this morning. An Icelandic ringed black-tailed godwit on the Scrape is sporting a satellite transmitter, which is helping to reveal lots of information about the complicated movements of this species.

    The great white egret put in another appearance at Island Mere on Sunday, and up to 15 Bewick's swans may be seen on the mere. Two female goldeneyes have been seen on several dates, while bitterns, otters, marsh harriers, water rails, snipe and bearded tits are regular. A water pipit has been seen there this morning too.

    A water pipit by Jon Evans (taken a couple of years ago)

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

  • 21 November 2015

    A partridge in a pear tree?

    It's our Christmas shopping weekend, and the reception is filled with the wonderful aroma of hot spiced apple juice, sparkling Christmas tree lights, and staff wearing funny hats. There's a complimentary glass of the apple juice for all visitors. In the shop we have RSPB Love Nature chocolate, fudge and biscuits to taste, racing robins from the Christmas crackers, a tombola and our friends at Viking Optical with the full range of RSPB and Viking binoculars, telescopes and accessories to try. Why not join us tomorrow for some early festive fun.

    There's a real Christmas feel to the visitor centre today, and the wildlife has been joining in. Although not the right species of partridge, and despite the lack of the pear tree, we were joined by two red-legged partridges feeding under the feeders this afternoon.

    Photo: red-legged partridge by Ian Barthorpe

    The feeders themselves saw a constant stream of blue, great, coal and marsh tits vying with chaffinches and greenfinches for a chance to steal a seed or two - we had to fill them three times today. The brmabling was seen beneath them again too.

    Out of the reserve, the cold northerly wind brought the first real chill of winter to the air, and saw the arrival of five goosanders, (one male, four females) and two female goldeneyes on Island Mere. The former is a rare bird at Minsmere, so was a welcome surprise. Surprisingly there was no sign of any Bewick's swans today, and the great white egret wasn't reported either (has it gone, or was it keeping low in the wind?) but six marsh harriers were seen hunting around the reedbed. An otter put in several appearances at Bittern Hide this morning too.

    A sparrowhawk was hunting too, and caught a robin close to Bittern Hide - clearly not entering the Christmas spirit, but more intent on a meal for survival.

    The wild weather certainly made for a stormy sea, and many seabirds were on the move. Large numbers of gannets were seen flying south, and several brent geese flew north. Various species of ducks and wading birds were caught up in these movements too. Several small flocks of starlings were seen coming ashore. The scarce little auk often accompanies these starling flocks, and while none were reported at Minsmere, several were seen elsewhere along the Suffolk coast today. A grey phalarope flew south on Thursday too.

    Photo: a stormy sea at Minsmere this afternoon

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

  • 16 November 2015

    You don't see that every day

    While it's not exactly easy to see a bittern at Minsmere, there are at least several sightings every day, and Minsmere is certainly one of the best places to look for these elusive herons. Most of these sightings will be from Bittern Hide or Island Mere, or other locations with a view across the reedbed. Occasionally you may spot one from the visitor centre, especially in the spring when females fly higher and further on their feeding flights.

    But, as ever when it comes to wildlife watching, you should always be ready to expect the unexpected, and so it was for two of our volunteer guides, Mick and Graham, this morning. Having paused at the start of the pond boardwalk to admire the birds-nest fungus that is again putting on a good show, they wandered a couple of metres farther along the boardwalk and stopped to watch pond skaters and waterboatmen below them. Suddenly, and taking them totally by surprise, a bittern flew up from the edge of the pond just a few metres from them. Whether this was one of "our" bitterns, or a newly arrived migrant from northern Europe, we can't tell, but the choice of feeding location was unusual. With no fish in the pond, it may have been searching for freshwater invertebrates such as beetle or dragonfly larvae, or perhaps a tasty newt.

    A bittern fishing by Jon Evans

    It was the start of an interesting day for both Mick and Graham, as they spotted a good variety of wildlife to show to visitors and report back to the visitor centre. They did miss a few goodies though, as several visitors were lucky enough to see a short-eared owl (two ladies even showed us a photograph of one), while neither our our guides spotted the two late house martins that flew over the visitor centre just after lunch.

    Perhaps the bird that attracted the most attention today was a lovely male brambling that was seen several times beneath the feeders around the visitor centre. There was a constant stream of marsh, coal, blue and great tits, goldfinches, chaffinches and greenfinches on the feeders too. Nearby, redwings, fieldfares, siskins and a bullfinch were seen in the North Bushes, while a mistle thrush has already started singing around the car park.

    Mistle thrush by Sue Tranter (

    The Scrape remains a hotspot for ducks and gulls, with daily sightings of at least one each of yellow-legged and Caspian gulls. It's a bit of a challenge to find them though, as yesterday's volunteer guides reported more than 700 large gulls on East Scrape alone. Our avocets have finally all departed, but waders on the Scrape today included 15 black-tailed godwits, 10 dunlins, two curlews and a knot. In addition, four snipe were at Island Mere, and about 120 lapwings were feeding north of the North Wall this afternoon - the latter alongside 30 red deer!

    The flock of Bewick's swans now numbers 15, and while they usually spend the day feeding south of Island Mere (where they should be viewable from Whin Hill), they also visit both Island Mere and East Scrape. The great white egret continues to show only occasionally in flight, and a kingfisher whizzed past Island Mere Hide today too. No otters were reported today, but they have been regular recently. Finally, three goldeneyes (an adult male, female and young male) landed on Island Mere mid afternoon. Hopefully they will stay for the winter as these beautiful ducks were very scarce last year.

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

  • 12 November 2015

    Something for the weekend

    We have a couple of exciting weekends planned this month, starting this coming Saturday, 14 November, when families are invited to join two local artists for the first of four workshops titled Tidal Margins. Funded by Touching the Tide, a Heritage Lottery Fund landscape project on Suffolk's Heritage Coast, these workshops bring together families and artists to have fun and learn new art techniques. They are ideal for beginners and cost just £3 per person. 

    Saturday's workshop is led by Margaret Wyllie and Jennifer Hall who will creating wire sculptures and drawings. There are two sessions, at 10 am or 1.30 pm. Booking is recommended, but you can also turn up on the day.

    There will be three further Tidal Margins workshops at Minsmere, on Saturday 16 January, Saturday 13 February and Saturday 12 March, all using different art techniques. If, like me, you're not very artist, these will be a good opportunity to learn. 

    The following weekend, Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 November, we host our annual Christmas Shopping Weekend. There will be a party atmosphere in the shop, with hot spiced apple juice being served, penguin racing (from our popular Christmas crackers), chocolate tasting and lots of tinsel - we already have the decorations up ready. Our staff and volunteers will be on hand to prove expert advice on choosing the right birdfood and feeders, and we'll be joined by Viking Optical for a binocular and telescope open weekend too. 

    The Christmas Shopping Weekend is the perfect excuse to escape the crowds of the busy High Streets, but don't forget that we're always happy to help you to choose the right products for you - as many people did today after enjoying a walk in the autumn sunshine.

    As if all that wasn't enough, there's some good wildlife to see too. At least 14 Bewick's swans are now present, usually roosting on Island Mere but spending the on the Scrape or in surrounding fields. The great white egret remains elusive at Island Mere, and otters and bitterns are being seen every day too. The Scrape is heaving with ducks, and is proving to be a real treat for larophiles (birdwatchers with a love of gulls) who continue to pick out several Caspian and yellow-legged gulls among the throng of herring and black-backed gulls (both types). There are also upto seven spotted redshanks, a greenshank, a knot and several black-tailed godwits on the Scrape.

    Elsewhere, stonechats are perhaps easiest to find at the time of year, both along the North Wall and in the dunes, short-eared owls may be spotted in the dunes or over the Levels, the bramblings remains outside the visitor centre, and a few swallows and house martins are still passing through, making the most of the mild weather which continues to prove attractive to insects.

    Finally, although we thought our starlings may have moved on, there was a brief display from about 2000 birds over North Marsh tonight before they flew south. While this is only a fraction of the main flock, all may not yet be lost if you wish to watch a murmuration. Good luck though, as they are certainly not predictable right now.

    Perhaps you'll even see a sunset like this to end your day. Photo by Ian Barthorpe

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

  • 10 November 2015

    A burning issue

    Continuing the bonfire theme from my last blog, there's a smoky smell emanating from the office this afternoon. The reason? With no power this morning due to a planned power cut to allow tree felling around the powerlines on our entrance road, several of the visitor team joined the wardens to help with some habitat management work. Our tasks were to remove scrub from the edge of the reedbed at both Island Mere and Bittern Hide, and to burn the resultant brash. I was in the Bittern Hide team.

    If you had visited Bittern Hide this morning, you'd have witnessed a rare event - I was getting my hands dirty and doing some proper physical work - a nice change form sitting at a desk using a computer or meeting visitors in reception. Our priority was to trim the alder and willow trees in front of the hide, before they grew high enough to start to obstruct views from the hide. While we did that, Dave, one of the wardens, used his chainsaw to fell a couple of willows at the edge of the reedbed.

    The problem with trying to burn freshly cut wood is that it doesn't burn well at first, especially willow and alder. After several false attempts, Dave's fire-lighting experience got the fire roaring nicely, and it wasn't long before the brash was completely burnt. Being wet and leafy, it was a rather smoky fire at first, so apologies to anyone who encountered a wall of smoke hanging in the woods between Bittern Hide and Southbelt crossroads. Hopefully your consolation will be improved viewing from the hide, with no danger of branches obscuring the view for at least another year. Apologies too, for anyone who found the view from Island Mere Hide a little restricted by smoke too.

    Despite the smoke, there was still plenty of wildlife to spot. A little egret twice landed in the pool while we working at Bittern Hide and we had great views of marsh harriers, greylag geese and lapwings flying over too. There were still lots of common darters on the wing too, including some mating pairs, taking advantage of the incredibly mild mid November weather. In fact, at times it felt like summer, as Paul and I also watched five late house martins hunting over the reedbed whilst we were on our lunchbreak, and a red admiral butterfly was  also spotted later in the day.

    While we took a coffee break mid morning I also found this gorgeous little insect. It's an acorn weevil. Look carefully and you can see that it's antennae turn up at right angles, almost like an old TV aerial (sorry, it's not a great picture). It just shows that it pays to keep your eyes peeled at all times.

    Acorn weevil by Ian Barthorpe

    Of course, there was plenty to see without needing to visit either of the reedbed hides. A very late ring ouzel was found in the sluice bushes, and a short-eared owl was spotted along the dunes - two were present yesterday.

    There's still a few waders on the Scrape, including one or two avocets, dunlins, knots, spotted redshanks and curlews and several lapwings, black-tailed godwits and snipe. The ducks  are looking very attractive in the breeding finery now - or at least the drakes are, as the ducks are typically much more drab, though no less attractive. For a real ID challenge, why not check through the gulls in search of Caspian and yellow-legged gulls - there have to been up to ten Caspian and 20 yellow-legged in the roost recently.

    Drake teal by Sue Tranter ( - the most numerous duck on the Scrape

    The coal and marsh tits are still very busy on the visitor centre feeders, and goldcrests, jays and green woodpeckers may be spotted around the woods.

    When we're not burning vegetation in front of the hides, the typical reedbed wildlife continues to show well at times. Two otters were seen at Bittern Hide before 9 am this morning, and bitterns, a great white egret and several marsh harriers may be spotted from both Bittern and Island Mere hides. Sadly, though, it looks like our very popular starling roost may have relocated elsewhere on the Suffolk coast - though we don't yet know where. After a pre-roost gathering over the Scrape, the flock headed south over Sizewell woods at about 3.15 pm yesterday, so perhaps they are now using RSPB North Warren or Thorpeness Mere.

    A common darter by Ian Barthorpe - several were still flying today

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

  • 5 November 2015

    Remember remember, 10 November

    Rember, remember, the fifth of November, gunpoweder, treason and plot.

    We probably all remember the rhyme from our school days, but when out celebrating fireworks night, how many people actually remember why we bother at all - commemorating Guy Fawkes's attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament. 

    Perhaps more importantly, how many people remember to check their bonfires before lighting them, in case a weary hedgehog has already settled down to hibernate beneath a lovely warm pile of leaves and sticks. Sadly, it may get a bit too warm for some unlucky hogs, though with the evenings still being quite mild some won't have headed to hibernation yet.

    If you are planning to visit Minsmere next week, please note that due to planned engineering works, we expect to have no power at all on Tuesday morning, 10 November. As a result, the cafe will remain closed until about 12 pm, after which they will only be serving hot and cold drinks and cakes. No hot food, soup or scones will be available as the staff won't be able to prepare these in the morning.

    There'll be cakes but no scones available on Tuesday afternoon

    The shop will remain open, but will only be able to take cash sales until the power comes back on at about 12 pm. You will, of course, be welcome to browse, and come back later to make your purchases.

    With no power, we'll also have no pump for the water supply, so the toilets will be closed all morning too. We will provide portaloos, so you shouldn't get caught short.

    As our computers will also be unavailable, some of the visitor experience team will be joining the wardens and volunteers for a variety of habitat management tasks. This may include some burning of vegetation in front of the reedbed hides, but other parts of the visitor trails shouldn't be affected, so don't let us put you off visiting.

    There is actually lots of wildlife to look for at the moment too. Ten Bewick's swans and a great white egret have been seen around Island Mere today, as well as reports of an otter this morning. Marsh harriers, kingfishers and bearded tits are also present in the reedbed as usual. Out on the Scrape, an impressive 120+ snipe were counted yesterday, while other waders so far this week have included seven avocets, three knot, four spotted redshanks, 20 golden plovers and 25 black-tailed godwits. Other highlights on the Scrape include a drake pochard, drake pintail, adult yellow-legged and Caspian gulls, and eight brent geese this morning. A peregrine was spotted hunting over the Scrape this morning, and was later seen feeding on the Levels, and a short-eared owl was seen near the sluice. Closer tot he visitor centre, the brambling and marsh tits were around the feeders again, and redwings have been seen in the North Bushes.

    We hope that the disruption on Tuesday doesn't cause you too many problems. 

    Snipe by Jon Evans - they won't all be as easy to see as this

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

  • 3 November 2015

    Isn't the Internet useful

    Guest blog by Steve Everett, Minsmere volunteer guide

    I spent some time in East Hide the other day watching the various ducks and waders searching for food in the shallow water and mud of the scrape.  It took me a little while to get into the hide as I was distracted for some time by all the goldcrests flitting around the bushes outside.  These are lovely little birds, fascinating to watch as they search for small insects and spiders, but they’re a bit of a nightmare to photograph as they jump around the bushes.  For every decent picture of a goldcrest you end up with dozens of beautiful shots of branches or leaves where there was a bird just a few milli-seconds before.  It’s a situation recognised by every wildlife photographer and I can pretty much guarantee that those branches and leaves will be in perfect focus, beautifully exposed.  Just with no subject matter.  Ah well!

    Goldcrest by Steve Everett - one that didn't get away

    Anyway, in front of the hide, poking around in the shallows were a couple of black-tailed godwits.  These waders are not particularly uncommon at Minsmere, but it’s a treat to see them so close to the hide, so I took advantage of the situation to get a few pictures.  It was only when I got home and was sorting out the day’s images however, that I realised the bird was ringed (most of the pictures were of the Godwit in water covering its legs).  It was the work of a moment to pop open a search engine and look for any information on godwit ringing.  This led me to a University of East Anglia professor, who put me in contact with a colleague of hers in Iceland who was leading the research.

    Within a couple of days of taking her picture (the godwit’s a female), I knew that she was originally ringed in Iceland in 2003 (at 12 years old, she’s only middle-aged for a godwit I’ve discovered), regularly spends time at Minsmere and the surrounding Suffolk coastline (sightings at Havergate Island, Orfordness etc have been reported over the years) and likes the occasional trip to Spain and Portugal before returning to Iceland.  My sighting and picture have been added to the database, so I feel I’ve done my little bit towards increasing the knowledge of how these birds live.

    The ringed black-tailed godwit by Steve Everett

    It’s not the first time I’ve reported a tagged bird spotted at Minsmere (regulars will remember seeing marsh harrier A7, originally tagged in Norfolk a few years ago), but it’s worth keeping your eyes open when out and about.  With a few clicks of a mouse you can learn all sorts of fascinating information about the most innocuous of birds sitting right in front of you.  The Internet has made all this information accessible to everybody and allows us to easily contribute.  That’s something we should celebrate!

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

  • 2 November 2015

    Winter's arrived

    I'm back from a superb week watching eagles, otters, dolphins and much more on the beautiful island of Mull, and it sounds like I've missed quite an exciting ten days here at Minsmere too.

    I always consider that winter arrives with the first sighting of a "wild" swan. For me, that was last Monday when I saw four whooper swans on Mull, but here at Minsmere is was over the weekend when the first Bewick's swans returned form Siberia. Four Bewick's have been present on the Scrape all day today.

    Bewick's swan by Ian Barthorpe

    Other winter visitors have been seen too. The shore lark remained until Friday and both hen harrier and short-eared owl were seen on several dates. One of the wardens saw a jack snipe on Thursday, and another penduline tit was heard (but not seen) between Wildlife Lookout and South Hide on Thursday. The first goldeneye arrived on East Scrape on Friday too, while several flocks of fieldfares have been spotted.

    There was good seawatching during the week too, with sightings of black-throated diver, sooty shearwater, goldeneyes, several red-breasted mergansers and a few guillemots offshore. The highlight, though, was a  grey phalarope that flew south on Thursday.

    There were several species of waders on the Scrape last week too, including golden, grey and ringed plovers, knots, dunlins, spotted redshanks and a greenshank, as well as the regular six avocets, 30+ black-tailed godwits, several snipe and up to 250 lapwings. The late curlew sandpiper was last seen on Thursday. 

    Also on the Scrape, among the increasing numbers of commoner ducks, up to ten pintails have been seen daily, while a drake mandarin was a bonus on Thursday. These beautiful birds occur in small numbers in the Ipswich parks, and are occasionally seen elsewhere in Suffolk, but we only see one or two per year at Minsmere. Among the gulls, both yellow-legged and Mediterranean gulls were seen today.

    A male mandarin (photographed in the wild in Suffolk, but not at Minsmere) by Ian Barthorpe

    The usual suspects continue to show well at times in the reedbed: bitterns, bearded tits, marsh harriers, water rails, kingfishers and otters, while Cetti's warblers can be heard in many parts of the reserve. Up to two peregrines may be spotted hunting over the reserve too.

    Among the smaller birds, the highlight for many has been a beautiful male brambling under the the visitor centre feeders. Harder to spot, but no less attractive, were up to two firecrests in the sluice bushes, a Dartford warbler nearby, and five bullfinches in the North Bushes this morning.

    Despite all the winter visitors, there were still sightings of swallows until the end of October, while ten stone-curlews remained on the heath on Thursday.

    The fog for the last two days has made starling watching more tricky, but the large murmuration was still present yesterday. An unusual white starling was spotted among the pre-roost gathering on the Scrape on Thursday too. The best time to watch the starlings is from about 3.45 pm, along the North Wall.

    Starlings at Minsmere last year by Ian Barthorpe

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

  • 22 October 2015

    Not ducking the issue

    Every summer, once the breeding season is over, Minsmere's wardens, volunteers and contractors turn their attention to the task of habitat management, helping to create the perfect home for an incredible variety of nature. Work continues throughout the autumn and winter, and it's not an easy task, as they have to juggle the conflicting needs of different species, and carry out the work in such a way as to minimise impacts on visitors.

    The latter is particularly important, as Minsmere is open from dawn to dusk, seven days a week, 365 days a year, so there are no opportunities to carry out this management work when the reserve is closed. Luckily, at a  site as large and varied as Minsmere, there is always something to be seen, even if you may have move on from your favourite location for a while.

    The Scrape is always the first focus of this work, with vegetation cut and burnt on the islands and banks as early as August. We try to work in front of one hide at a time, so that the birds will remain feeding on other parts of the Scrape. Once most of the  vegetation is cut, we often take a digger onto the Scrape to reprofile some of the islands, clear ditches, and move soil banks away from the hides. As anyone who has visited Minsmere over the last couple of weeks will be aware, it was the turn of West Scrape for this reprofiling this year. We had lowered the water levels to make access easier, but the recent rain, coupled with the digger leaving yesterday, has left very shallow water across West Scrape, and the flocks of teal have already moved back in.

    One benefit of using machinery for habitat management work, is that the wildlife quickly gets used to it and takes little notice. A good example of this was the arrival of a curlew sandpiper on West Scrape earlier in the week, even while the digger was still present. This late bird was still present today, along with several snipe which were taking advantage of the newly turned soil to probe for worms. Not only is this habitat management work good for the wildlife - the bare islands will be perfect for nesting avocets next April - but it also improves the viewing for you as visitors.

    West Scrape this afternoon, following management work

    In fact, the Scrape is looking superb at the moment. East Scrape is literally teeming with ducks, with some of the shovelers and teals resting just a few metres from the hide. Among the large flocks of gadwalls, shovelers, wigeons, teals and mallards, you may spot a few shelducks and the odd  pintail. All are rapidly acquiring their finest plumage too and look superb in the low winter sun. Look carefully and there are a few waders out there too, including up to 20 black-tailed godwits, four avocets, a few snipe and the odd curlew. Don't forget to check the gulls too, as both yellow-legged and Caspian gulls were present today, along with a few common and great black-backed gulls

    The view from East Hide today

    There's a few other notable birds on South Scrape today too. Four spotted redshanks have been present for a few days, and were joined by a knot this afternoon. Best of all, though, was a shorelark, found at lunchtime by the same lucky visitor whole found the penduline tits at Island Mere on Sunday. Hopefully it will stay a little longer than they did, as shorelarks are less than annual visitors to Minsmere, and increasingly difficult birds to see in Suffolk.

    Shorelark by Jon Evans - today's bird certainly wasn't showing this well though

    With management work completed on the Scrape, we're turning our attention to the reedbed, heathland and woods. We've already cut the reeds in front of Island Mere hide to improve viewing opportunities, though some of the reed still needs to be burnt. We're planning to cut the pools at Bittern Hide next week, having been somewhat hampered by the weather this week. Once this work is complete, it will hopefully be easier to spot bitterns, bearded tits and otters from these hides, as well as the marsh harriers.

    We'll soon be starting some work to lower the reedbed and make it wetter in places, though this isn't likely to be done close to the hides so is unlikely to impact on your enjoyment of the reedbed wildlife and tranquility of Minsmere in winter. This work will make our reedbed even better for breeding bitterns. 

    In the woods and on the heaths we're working hard to improve the habitat for wildlife such as nightjars, Dartford warblers, woodlarks and adders in parts of the reserve little used by many of our visitors.

    This will be my last blog for a couple of weeks as I'm going to looking for eagles on the Isle of Mull next week, but don't forget that you can find out what's been seen at Minsmere on the RSPB Suffolk Facebook page or @RSPBMinsmere on Twitter. Don't worry if you don't usually use Facebook of Twitter. If you click on the links they will take you to the update pages.

    And don't forget that the clocks go back on Sunday, so the starlings will gather earlier, making it easier for you to stay at Minsmere to watch this amazing spectacle. Why not bring the family to take part in our half term activities then watch the starling murmaration for  a perfect end to the day.

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

How you can help

Coast on a stormy day with heavy rain falling on coastal headland

We're setting up an emergency fund that we can use to get our reserves back into shape and repair the damage caused. Please help us rebuild from the worst storm in 60 years.

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Your sightings

Grid reference: TM4767 (+2km)

Great White Egret ()
16 Nov 2015
Penduline Tit (1)
29 Oct 2015
Bewick's Swan (5)
25 Nov 2015
Red-throated Diver (1)
25 Nov 2015
Marsh Harrier ()
25 Nov 2015
Black-tailed Godwit ()
25 Nov 2015
Caspian Gull (1)
25 Nov 2015
Cetti's Warbler ()
25 Nov 2015
Water Pipit (1)
24 Nov 2015
Great Northern Diver (1)
22 Nov 2015

Contact us

Where is it?

  • Lat/lng: 52.24746,1.61705
  • Postcode: IP17 3BY
  • Grid reference: TM473672
  • Nearest town: Saxmundham, Suffolk
  • County: Suffolk
  • Country: England

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