Skip navigation
Print page

Recent sightings

  • 18 September 2014


    The radio crackled into life. "There's an osprey fishing over Island Mere."

    I grabbed my binoculars and camera, clicked lock screen on the computer and headed out to the Whin Hill watchpoint to try to get a look. I called out to two passing visitors that there was an osprey at Island Mere, and they turned to follow me.

    As I reached Whin Hill the radio crackled again. The osprey was now flying past Bittern Hide towards the Visitor Centre - completely the opposite direction to where I was now standing. Hoping it was high enough above the trees to still get a glimpse I looked back along the ride whence I had just come.

    "It's above North Hide now." "How high?" "About 50 metres!" I was looking too high, and Kathy shouted, "It's there!" We didn't have long to watch it before it drifted on north above the trees, but what a bird! There's always something special about seeing an osprey - and for the couple who had followed me it was a first, so even more special. Perhaps it's the one that spent a few days fishing around the Blyth estuary, a few miles to the north? Or maybe it's a different bird, pausing on route from Scotland or Scandinavia. In a few weeks it will be fishing around the coast and rivers of Senegal or Mauritania in West Africa. I hope it has a safe journey and returns to our shores to breed again next year.

    An osprey by Chris Gomersall ( - not the one I saw today.

    I decided to continue on to Island Mere to have my lunch, watching small copper and female common blue butterflies on Whin Hill as I walked. It felt like mid summer, with Sizewell almost obscured in the haze and the sun beating down, and there really are fewer better places to sit and relax than Island Mere Hide.

    The visitors in the hide were buzzing with excitement as not only had they seen the osprey, but they'd watched it being mobbed by a female marsh harrier. In the distance a buzzard circled over the Eastbridge poplars, and a juvenile marsh harrier quartered above the reeds.

    It wasn't easy spotting birds on the mere at midday as we were looking straight at the sun, but I picked out gadwalls, coots and shovelers, several little grebes and five great crested grebes, as well as the usual cormorants. No sign of an otter in my brief 20 minute visit, but one was very active yesterday and the mud below the boardwalk was criss-crossed by what looked to me like otter tracks. Bearded tits pinged nearby, but sightings typically brief as they dashed low over the reeds. A Cetti's warbler shouted his distinctive welcome from a hidden perch. More obliging were the ruddy and common darters that landed on the window ledge.

    All too soon it was time to return to the office, suitably refreshed and inspired by my short connection with nature, knowing that I'd have to try to ignore subsequent radio messages.

    The osprey wasn't today's only highlight. An extremely late nightingale was seen in the North Bushes this morning, along with a blackcap, and an unfortunate goldfinch succumbed to a hungry sparrowhawk. Above the woods a couple of hobbies hawked for dragonflies.

    The autumn's first purple sandpiper and two sanderlings fed on the sluice outfall, and a variety of wading birds could be seen on the Scrape. The best of the waders this week have been little stints. The peak count yesterday was five, but over the weekend there was a colour-ringed stint that was ringed on it's breeding grounds in Norway. After refuelling at Minsmere this tiny wader, like the much larger osprey, will most likely spend the winter in West or southern Africa. Other waders this week have included ringed, golden and grey plovers, knot, dunlin, ruff, snipe, black- and bar-tailed godwits, spotted redshanks, greenshansk and common sandpipers in varying numbers, plus at least 22 late lingering avocets.

    Several visitors have reported seeing grass snakes and adders enjoying the autumn warmth, while a  plethora of different fungi are now appearing around the reserve. One day I may learn the names of a few of them!

    A parasol - one of the few fungi I can identify

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

  • 10 September 2014

    Time for a chat about cricket

    The fabulous Indian summer weather has proved particularly attractive to some of our insects, as well as providing perfect conditions for migratory birds to drop in.

    Our amazing autumn for wryneck records continues. At their final ringing demo of the year last Thursday the Waveney Bird Club trapped and ringed their third wryneck in eight days in the North Bushes. Amazingly, another was found in the dunes the next day and another near near South Hide over the weekend. One remains in the North Bushes today, though it is elusive at times. This brings the total to at least seven wrynecks so far this autumn.

    A wryneck in the hand, showing the amazingly cryptic plumage (photo by Ian Barthorpe)

    Another migrant seen in unusually high numbers this week has been whinchat, peaking at an impressive 10+ in the Chapel Field this morning. The sluice area is a good place to look for these chats, and the closely related wheatear, which often perch prominently as they scan the ground for invertebrates. 

    These chats feed mainly on beetles, crickets and other surface dwelling invertebrates. Walking around Minsmere at the moment you can hear several different species of cricket and grasshopper, but one of the most impressive is the great green bush-cricket. At about 6 cm long these are huge insects, and their stridulations (the sound made by rubbing their wings against their hind legs) is particularly loud. It is a similar sound to the grasshopper warbler, explaining clearly how the latter came to be named. The North Wall and Sluice area are good places to see these not so minibeasts.

    A great green bush-cricket by Jon Evans

    These aren't the only insects enjoying the warm weather. There are several willow emerald damselflies (a recent coloniser) near Wildlife Lookout and good numbers of migrant and southern hawkers and ruddy and common darter dragonflies. In grassy areas there are common blue, brown argus, small copper and small heath butterflies, while the woods hold good numbers of speckled wood. Red admirals, small tortoiseshells and commas are feeding on bramles and buddleias, and a late meadow brown was seen today.

    Reptiles are benefiting from the mild weather too, and Steve found both grass snake and adder during his insect walk this morning.

    Of course, autumn is a great time to look for migrant wading birds feeding in the shallow muddy margins of the Scrape and North Levels pools. There's an excellent variety of species present, though counts of most species remain low apart form the 150 or so black-tailed godwits. A few avocets remain, and several spotted redshanks, greenshanks, snipe and ruffs can be found. Among the highlights this week have been up to five curlew sandpipers and five little stints (including a colour-ringed bird today). Other species seen include sanderling, knot, dunlin, turnstone, ringed and little ringed plovers, green and common sandpipers. A wood sandpiper was on the Konik Field yesterday and the North Levels today, but best of the waders was the elusive pectoral sandpiper on the North Levels this morning.

    A pectoral sandpiper by Jon Evans

    Other migrants seen this week include good numbers of warblers, especially whitethroats and lesser whitethroats, one or two spotted and pied flycatchers and yellow wagtails, and a good passage of swallows. At least nine buzzards today were presumably migrants, while a couple of hobbies remain. A white-winged black tern was on Island Mere briefly one evening last week.

    The reedbed is generally quieter at this time of year, though bitterns and marsh harriers are still seen every day and if you are patient enough you might be lucky. Otters are seen most days too, and kingfishers sightings are most frequent in early autumn. Bearded tit activity should increase in the next few weeks, while water rails are often seen feeding along the edge of the Scrape. At Island Mere the ferruginous duck continues to put in sporadic appearances among the large flock of coots and gadwalls.

    With the high pressure set to continue, perhaps we'll be treated to the arrival another rarity or two in the next week or so too.

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

  • 2 September 2014

    An avian Watford Gap

    There's a real feeling of autumn arriving at Minsmere now, despite weather forecasts for another warm spell arriving. It was cool and breezy for my lunchtime walk today, with a hint of drizzle in the air, but all around were signs that migration is in full swing.

    As I strolled through the North Bushes it seemed strangely quiet. Where yesterday the bushes were full of migrant warblers, refueling on blackberries for the long journey ahead, today I saw just a few goldfinches and blue tits. Such a contrast is not unusual as birds spend the morning feeding then either rest or move on. Indeed, from the behaviour of some of the birds yesterday I think there had been a recent arrival of tired migrants - like this juvenile whitethroat that hopped around just a metre away from me.

    There were double figure counts of whitethroats, lesser whitethroats, blackcaps and pied wagtails, a few chiffchaffs and a lovely spotted flycatcher present yesterday, and all these species had been reported again earlier today. Sadly the wryneck was last seen on Sunday though.

    As i reached the beach today I was lucky enough to spot a couple of black terns passing by close inshore - part of a small passage of these beautiful birds. A long-tailed skua was seen offshore this morning too.

    When I reached East Hide it was great to see the Scrape full of birds. Some, like our feral greylag geese and local mallards, moorhens and gadwalls, stay on or near the reserve throughout the year, but many were migrants, taking advantage of the shallow water and muddy margins to refuel. They are using Minsmere as the bird equivalent of a motorway service station, with some stopping only briefly while others stay for several days before continuing their journey southward. Others have arrived to spend the winter.

    Teals were the most numerous ducks, back already from their nesting areas farther north or east. Among them a few wigeons rested on the banks, and I managed to pick out a female pintail. The ducks are an ID challenge still, though, as they remain in their moult, or eclipse, plumage. It will be a few weeks till they acquire their bright colours again.

    If ducks are a challenge, waders are probably even harder. Many visitors don't get the opportunity to watch waders very often, and with a variety of species in all sorts of plumage - breeding, winter, juvenile and intermediate moults, it can get very confusing. I found myself fulfilling the role of our volunteer guides for the next 30 minutes, helping visitors to spot some of the species.

    Three juvenile curlew sandpipers obligingly fed close to the hide, giving a good comparison with the more numerous but very similar dunlins. The three little stints were more tricky to spot, but we eventually found them as the flock wheeled around in flight after being disturbed by a grey heron. There were a few common sandpipers, ruffs, spotted redshanks and greenshanks, as well as little ringed and ringed plovers, all providing a good test of my ID skills. Much easier to see were the remaining dozen or so avocets and about 100 black-tailed godwits. 

    Among the gulls on the Scrape I spotted a little gull in adult winter plumage, while one of our volunteers had earlier seen a juvenile Caspian gull. There was also a juvenile Sandwich tern. Along the reedy margins a few water rails had been putting on a brief show, but I only heard their pig-like squeals.

    Elsewhere on the reserve we still have regular sightings of bitterns and marsh harriers in the reedbed, though neither is easy to spot at this time of year. Bearded tits are becoming more showy and Cetti's warblers are starting to sing again. Otters have been seen most days, including a fight between a dog otter and a youngster at Bittern Hide on Saturday morning. The youngster had a quick sleep afterwards, as photographed by Roy Farrington.

    There still lots of butterflies and dragonflies, the beewolfs can still be seen in the North Bushes, and our wasp spiders may be seen in the dunes. And, of ourse, the best signs of autumn are the ripening blackberries and hawthorns berries around the reserve.

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

  • 29 August 2014

    Wrynecks, waders, wheatears and more

    The exciting summer of family activities and superb wildlife watching has continued, despite occasional periods of heavy rain (most notably on Bank Holiday Monday!).

    Pond dipping, owl pellet dissection and minibeast hunts continued to be popular with families, giving many children (and their parents/grandparents) the chance to discover nature in miniature. Steve's family nature walks on Wednesdays are always great fun, and this week he managed to find a beautiful female slow worm. Knowing that I had never managed to see one of these lovely reptiles at Minsmere, he brought it into the visitor centre to show me. What a beauty! Last week Steve had found a grass snake on his walks, and over the weekend an adder decided to crawl under the picnic tables outside the cafe, so it's been a good few days for reptiles.

    The Waveney Bird Club's ringing demonstrations have been an amazing success too. Last week I brought my family along to watch and we were lucky enough to see two sparrowhawks, two long-tailed tits, a goldcrest, willow warbler and chiffchaff being ringing - among other species. 

    This week the club were ringing on Wednesday as part of the BTO's Constant Effort Sites scheme and caught a gorgeous wryneck in the North Bushes. These cryptically coloured woodpeckers are scarce migrants in the UK, and luckily it was seen again after being ringed and released. Incredibly, the following morning they caught a second wryneck in the same area, and both birds, plus a third unringed one, were seen intermittently all day. At least two remain today too. Probably the best bird of yesterday's ringing demonstration, though was this amazing kingfisher, photographed by one of our membership team, Martin Lippiatt. What an amazing bird.

    Wrynecks aren't the only passage migrants pausing to refuel at Minsmere this week. Several wheatears, upto three whinchats, a few yellow wagtails and at least a couple of pied flycatchers have been seen in the dunes, with lesser and common whitethroats, blackcaps and willow warblers in the North Bushes.

    Out on the Scrape, the excellent late summer wader passage continues with varying numbers and species present each day but highlights including little stints, curlew sandpipers, sanderlings, spotted redshanks, greenshanks and ruffs among good numbers of dunlins and black-tailed godwits. A few avocets are still lingering, and one or two young common and Sandwich terns and Mediterranean gulls are seen each day.

    In the reedbed, the bitterns and marsh harriers are trickier to spot at the moment, but are still seen daily, as is the otter at Island Mere - it even sat under the hide for a while on Wednesday! A moulting female ferruginous duck is settled on Island Mere, though can be elusive among the moulting gadwalls, mallards, shovelers and coots. Bearded tits are regular there too.

    Management work continues with a new reed cutting and harvesting machine on the Scrape last week, then in parts of the reedbed. The South Hide and Wildlife Lookout received a new coat of paint yesterday. And our equine management team gained an extra member with the birth of the latest konik foal which is thrilling visitors lucky enough to spot it.

    What will the next week bring.

    Wryneck by Jon Evans

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

  • 14 August 2014

    An opportunistic otter

    It was a bit of a heron fest at Minsmere today. A great white egret spent a bit of time at Island Mere this morning, with bitterns seen in flight there later. Seven spoonbills moved from the Scrape to Lucky Pool this morning. Plus of course there were little egrets and grey herons to be seen.

    The waders mostly relocated to South Scrape while the wardens and volunteers carried out essential habitat management work on East Scrape today. Among the highlights were 32 avocets, 50+ black-tailed godwits, seven greenshanks, a spotted redshank and a curlew, with a couple of common and Sandwich terns and three little gulls also present. A kingfisher was seen there too.

    The North Bushes blackberries attracted a variety of hungry warblers this morning, including seven lesser whitethroats, while a family of stonechats fed near the sluice.

    The undoubted highlight, though, was an otter at Island Mere this morning. After swimming around for several minutes, causing panic among the ducks, it cheekily came up beneath a cormorant and pulled it under in an instant. Result: one less cormorant to sun itself on the posts and one full otter. It must have been an impressive sight.

    I'm now heading off on annual leave so there will be no further blogs until at least 27 August. To keep up with news from Minsmere in this time please check the RSPB Suffolk Facebook pages or @RSPBMinsmere Twitter account. You don't need your own account to see our posts - just click on the links.

    I'll be at Birdfair at Rutland Water on Saturday, so may spot some of you there.

    An otter enjoying a rest by Ian Clarke

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

  • 12 August 2014

    The birds and the bees (and butterflies and machines and...)

    Despite the weekend storms and frequent heavy showers, our insects are continuing to attract a lot of attention. Butterflies such as gatekeepers and meadow browns are attracted to brambles, small coppers and common blues on the North Wall and dunes, and red admirals and small tortoiseshells still on the remaining buddleia flowers. Common and ruddy darters and migrant and southern hawker dragonflies are patrolling woodland rides and ditch edges in search of midges and other smaller insects to eat. The bee-wolfs remain very popular in the North Bushes, and look out too for hoverflies, bumblebees and crickets in suitable habitat.

    In the bird world things are quietening down a bit as the breeding season finally ends and even the reed and sedge warblers stop singing. The best place to spot small birds in August is probably the North Bushes, where various warblers are refuelling for their long migration by feeding on blackberries or the flies that are attracted to the ripening fruits. Look out for whitethroats, lesser whitethroats, blackcaps, garden warblers and willow warblers, as well as various finches and tits. A robin or two is likely to be aggressively protecting it's chosen patch. With luck, in the next few weeks we may find a few more unusual migrants - pied or spotted flycatchers, red-backed shrike or wryneck, or perhaps a whinchat.

    Other migrants are already passing through, with several yellow wagtails and a few wheatears seen most days, either in the dunes or around the Konik Field.

    A wheatear in the dunes by Jon Evans

    Out on the Scrape, there is still a good variety of waders present, although avocet numbers are dwindling as they head towards the estuaries. One of the best places to see them is the Alde Estuary, and we have just a handful of places left on the Havergate Adventure this weekend to look for avocets, spoonbills and other exciting wildlife on Havergate Island. If you are interested in going, please call 01728 648281 to book. (the only remaining spaces are at 12.30 pm or 1.30 pm on Saturday and 1.30 pm on Sunday). Alternatively, we also have trips to Havergate on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 September - booking is essential.

    Other waders still on the Scrape include black-tailed godwits (100+), spotted redshanks, greenshanks, green and common sandpipers, ruffs, dunlins and snipe. There's also a couple of garganeys, good numbers of teals, and several little egrets on the Scrape, although most of the little gulls have now moved on.

    While water levels remain low, the wardens and volunteers are busy undertaking the annual management programme , preparing the Scrape for winter flooding and next year's breeding season. We've already cut much of the vegetation on West Scrape, and on Thursday the work party will be busy on East Scrape for the first time. We expect most of the waders to relocate either to West Scrape, the Konik Field or the North Levels for the day, and will locate our volunteer guides in the best locations to watch the waders. There is a temporary path tot he North Levels, which is also a good place to look for butterflies, goldfinches and bearded tits.

    Next week we're expecting the arrival of a new piece of machinery to assist our wetland habitat management work. This will be second-phase of the DECC*-funded project to create biofuels from the material that we cut on our wetland nature reserves. The machine doing the cutting is a different one from that used when the project was first trialed earlier this year. It will be cutting the fen areas on the Scrape around North Hide, South Girder (where the highland cattle have been feeding all summer) and three fen areas at the west end of the reserve - Meadow Marsh, Boomacre and Eastbridge Meadow.

    Our reedbed wildlife is rather elusive in mid summer, but bitterns and marsh harriers are still seen every day, kingfishers are becoming more regular, and the otters are still putting in regular appearances - one was on Island Mere for 40 minutes yesterday! Overhead, the sand martins and swallows are still actively feeding, though the former have now finished nesting, and the odd late swift or cuckoo might still be spotted.

    Juvenile sand martin by Jon Evans

    Don't forget, too, that our exciting family activities continue until the end of August - pond dipping on Mondays, owl pellet dissection on Tuesdays, family walks on Wednesdays, bird ringing demos on Thursdays and minibeast hunting on Fridays.

    *DECC is the Department of the Environment and Climate Change

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

  • 7 August 2014

    These aren’t Little Tern fledglings. They’re just really small Black-headed Gulls.

    Guest blog by Lana Austin, Little Tern Warden

    “I’m sorry Lana, there has been a mistake. These aren’t little tern fledglings. They’re just really small black-headed gulls.”

    Any day now someone is going to turn up wearing a suit and dark shades, pull me aside, and discreetly deliver the bad news. This is what I am waiting for. Because I can hardly believe the success we have had in our first year of wardening at Kessingland Beach.

    Currently, our fledgling count for the Suffolk Coast sits at 13, with still more chicks at Kessingland intensively being fed and brooded. Sound like a low number? That’s because it is. And it is actually the highest number of fledglings in years. This is one of the main reasons that they are declining. While hundreds of adults turn up on the Suffolk Coast each year looking to breed their success rates are hazardously low. We hope this is the first of many years where we can help increase the number of chicks fledged.

    Our season has been very staggered, and we aren’t really sure how it is going to end. We still have two girls diligently incubating and our oldest fledglings are around 5 weeks old. Will the whole colony stay and wait for these late layers? Will the incubating girls just give up and abandon, realising that they have left it too late? Only time will tell. I will keep you updated as things progress.

    An amusing anecdote. Jesse and I watched one of our newest little tern fledglings as he learnt to fish. He briefly hovered above the water, swooped down shoulder first, and tried to take a sand eel off the surface. Twelve times. All the right steps that he has seen his parents do time and time again. Just not executed with finesse of a seasoned fisher.

    So what about his thirteenth attempt? You know what they say, thirteenth go’s a charm. Not so for our little fledgling. We saw him bring up a small and silvery sand eel…, and drop it back into the sea. They are pretty slippery, you know. He returned to the shoreline to enjoy his last few days being feed by his parents.

    Want to get in touch, or be on the mailing list to help us succeed next year? Contact Little Tern Warden Lana Austin at

    Image by Dr Leah Williams of a little tern fledgling on Kessingland Beach.

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

  • 6 August 2014

    Wolves at Minsmere!

    One of the biggest attractions at Minsmere in late summer is one of our smaller residents, yet also one of our most fearsome predators - at least it is if you're a honeybee. It's also an impressive digger, easily rivaling more familiar diggers such as moles in its pound for pound capabilities.

    So what is this creature, I hear you ask? It's a bee wolf, a type of large digger wasp that preys mainly on honeybees - though it will also take other bees.

    Until about 20 years ago bee wolfs were extremely rare insects in the UK, being confined largely to the Isle of Wight. Recent years have seen a large expansion in both their population and range, and they can now be spotted as far north as Yorkshire. The soft sandy soils on the Suffolk Sandlings make a perfect home for this impressive wasp, and at Minsmere they can easily be seen burrowing along the edge of the path through the North Bushes, just before yo reach the North Wall.

    Typical beewolf habitat, complete with a beewolf carrying a honeybee

    I spent about 15 minutes watching and trying to photograph these fascinating wasps at lunchtime yesterday (note to self. I need a better camera!). Once you get your eye in they are easy to spot. The female beewolf flies in, often at speed within about a metre of the surface, with a paralyzed honeybee slung beneath her. Her prey is almost as big as her, yet barely seems to affect either her speed or maneuverability. 

    A beewolf with honeybee (both photos by Ian Barthorpe)

    She is on a mission. She quickly re-locates her hole in the low bank at the side of the path, even though the entrance may have been sealed by her on departure last time - or by the passage of human feet. Without letting go of the bee, she re-excavated the entrance hole and disappears below ground in an instant. She may remain below ground for several minutes as the tunnels can, incredibly, be up to one metre deep! They will as many as 30 nest chambers, each containing a bee in which she lays her eggs. In time, the next generation will emerge with a ready meal.

    Meanwhile, outside the hole other beewolfs patrol. These may be other females, intent on stealing a bee from a neighbour, or perhaps males ready to mate.

    Like many bees and wasps, beewolfs are excellent navigators. They have been recorded flying many hundred metres from their burrows, and returning with the homing instinct of a pigeon. They must be pretty efficient predators too, though as with any top predator they will have no impact on the populations of their prey.

    I could spend hours watching these insects, and they are very popular with visitors of all ages, so don't forget to look for them if you are visiting this month. Keep your eyes open too for Minsmere's tigers (tiger beetles on the heath), lions (antlion larval pits outside reception), dragons (various dragonflies and damselflies) and elephants (an elephant hawkmoth caterpillar was on the path near the pond earlier this week). And for wasp spiders in the dunes. There's many more impressive invertebrates to spot too.

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

  • 1 August 2014

    Wonderful waders, beautiful butterflies & happy families

    It's been another gorgeous week at Minsmere. I heard on the radio yesterday that the Met Office were reporting that July was the best ever, and August has certainly started with another day of unbroken sunshine.

    With such lovely weather it's not been a surprise to see hundreds of happy families on the reserve this week. Many have explored the reserve's nature trails and hides as well as building a den and taking part in our family activities. Here's just a few highlights from the first week of school holiday activities:

    • three water stick insects and lots of newt efts (young newts) caught during pond dipping on Monday
    • vole skeletons reconstructed during owl pellet dissection on Tuesday
    • a slow worm found on Steve's family nature walks on Wednesday
    • at least 80 birds ringed by the Waveney Bird Club on Thursday, including green and great spotted woodpeckers, goldcrests, pied wagtails and lots of reed warblers
    • finding woodland minibeasts including an impressive longhorn beetle today (photo below)

    All these activities will be repeated next week.

    Insects have been the star attractions for many, especially the butterflies on the buddleias. White admirals, silver-washed fritillary, graylings and purple hairstreaks have been the more unusual species, but the peacocks, red admirals and small tortoiseshells are more reliably seen. There's good numbers of common blues, small copper and Essex skippers in the dunes, as well as well various crickets and grasshoppers.

    It's also a good time to look for dragonflies, including emperors, southern and migrant hawkers and emerald damselflies.

    With the seasons still well advanced many of our summer flowers are almost over. Marsh mallow sometimes doesn't start flowering until August, but it is almost finished already this year. The bushes are already full of ripening blackberries too.

    Talking of the changing seasons, autumn is well underway in the bird world. Whitethroats and lesser whitethroats are feeding on those blackberries, the swifts have mostly gone, and wader passage continues to impress this year. At least 16 wader species were seen again today. Although the pratincole is now gone (last seen in Northumberland!), less common passage waders include curlew sandpiper, little ringed plovers, up to three wood sandpipers and up to 20 sanderlings. Avocet numbers are starting to decline as they head to the estuaries, but snipe and teal are arriving and yellow wagtails have been moving through in good numbers this week.

    Common sandpiper by Jon Evans

    In the reedbed, bitterns and marsh harriers are becoming much more elusive, but water rails are emerging at the muddy margins, family parties of bearded tits and reed warblers may be seen, and the hobbies are becoming more visible again. The North Levels temporary trail is a good place to look for water rails and bearded tits, as well as waders and herons. Otters are still seen most days too, especially at Island Mere. 

    The highlight this week, for the one person lucky enough to see it (the warden from RSPB Snape), was a lovely female red-footed falcon over the sluice briefly yesterday.

    What does the weekend have to offer?

    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.

Donate now

Your sightings

Grid reference: TM4767 (+2km)

Pectoral Sandpiper (1)
18 Sep 2014
Wryneck ()
10 Sep 2014
Cory's Shearwater (1)
27 Aug 2014
Kentish Plover (1)
21 Aug 2014
Little Stint (2)
18 Sep 2014
Avocet ()
17 Sep 2014
Black-tailed Godwit ()
17 Sep 2014
Spotted Redshank ()
17 Sep 2014
Kingfisher ()
17 Sep 2014
Bearded Tit ()
17 Sep 2014

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

Get directions

Note: Some reserves are not served directly by public transport and, in these cases, a nearby destination (from which you may need to walk or take a taxi or ferry) may be offered.

Living classrooms