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Recent sightings

  • 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 lana.austin@rspb.org.uk.

    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

  • 26 July 2014

    Something for everyone this summer

    With the school holidays now underway Minsmere really does offer something for everyone - and the reserve is looking superb right now.

    Families can enjoy letting off a bit of steam in the Wild Zone, build a den or stroll to the beach. Every weekday we also have an exciting range of family activities to enjoy. The events are as follows:

    • Mondays - pond dipping, 10-4
    • Tuesdays - owl pellet dissection, 10-4
    • Wednesdays - family nature walks, starting at 10.30, 11.30. 1.30 and 2.30. Cost £1.50 per person
    • Thursdays - bird ringing demonstrations with Waveney Bird Club, 10-4
    • Fridays - Woodland wanders. Minibeast hunting. 10-4

    No booking is required for these, though we recommend arriving early. Except where stated, all activities are free, though normal reserve entry fees apply for everyone. For full details see http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/m/minsmere/events.aspx 

    If you're looking for somewhere to enjoy a countryside walk with stunning views, then Minsmere's your place too. The Coast Trail offers lovely views over the  reedbed and up the coast towards Southwold. When it's as hot as today, the cooling breeze on the beach is very welcome. You'll see a great variety of shingle flowers in the dunes, including harebells, sheepsbit, restharrow and sea bindweed. These, in turn, attract butterflies such as common blue, brown argus, grayling, small copper and small and Essex skippers.

    Restharrow and sea pea in the dunes

    You can take a rest in one of the hides overlooking the Scrape. East Hide remains the place to be, with an excellent variety of wading birds present including the collared pratincole which has now reached day 12 of it's prolonged visit from the Mediterranean. Avocet numbers are starting to decline (88 were counted yesterday), as they usually do in midsummer, but the annual gathering of little gulls remains. The peak count so far is 75. Other waders this week have included wood, green, common and curlew sandpipers, spotted redshanks, greenshanks, ruffs and the more expected dunlins, lapwings and black-tailed godwits. Walking back from the sluice you'll see the lovely pale pink flowers of marsh mallow.

    If you're seeking shade, the Island Mere walk is mostly beneath the canopy of the oak wood. Look up and you might spot a purple hairstreak or white admiral butterfly. Check the brambles and ragwort flowers for other butterflies and hoverflies, which may in turn attract a hunting dragonfly. Spend some time in the hides on this walk and you may be lucky enough to spot some of Minsmere's reedbed specialists, though it's getting harder now that most of the chicks have fledged. Bitterns, marsh harriers and bearded tits are the main attractions, but reed and sedge warblers may be easier to see. The Cetti's warblers have mostly stopped singing while they moult, but sightings of kingfishers are becoming more frequent as the young disperse away from nearby nesting territories. Otters are still seen occasionally, but the star attraction in the reedbed at the moment may be the great crested grebe chicks that hatched at Island Mere today.

    if the weather's good, as today, some hides might be busy at times, so to avoid the crowds why not get here early, or stay till the evening. Minsmere's hides and nature trails are open from dawn to dusk. This week we've also opened a seasonal trail to the North Levels. The thistles along the New Cut bank are a haven for butterflies, while the pools are a good place to watch herons, egrets and spoonbills. As the water levels drop they'll be good for waders too.

    Small copper - one of the butterflies to look for in short grass areas

    If you don't feel like a walk, then you can browse the shop, where our Christmas cards and calendars are already in stock (sorry, I know it's only July but with 15% off as an early bird discount they're already selling fast). Or you can refuel in the cafe and sample our delicious home-cooked food, made using locally sourced produce wherever possible, or the tasty bird-friendly RSPB coffee.

    Why not come and see for yourself this summer?

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

  • 22 July 2014

    The excitement continues

    Wow. What a month! July seems to keep getting better and better. 

    After all of the excitement over a new butterfly for the reserve list, we've since added both a new moth and a new beetle.

    Our wardens and volunteers regularly operate a moth trap at Minsmere, and over the years they have recorded an amazing variety of species, including two that had never previously been seen in the UK. The latest addition to the list is  a rare migrant from southern Europe, recorded only a handful of times in the UK since the first sighting in 1993. As with many moths, it doesn't have an English name so is known only by its scientific name - Evergestis limbata. This brings the list of Lepidoptera (the collective name for butterflies and moths) recorded at Minsmere to an impressive 1110.

    Evergestis limbata by Robin Harvey

    The discovery of our new beetle was even more unusual. Irene Ridley, Minsmere Administrator and Field Teacher, takes up the story.

    "Whilst clearing up in the woodlands last Tuesday after a school visit, I was intrigued by a large beetle, sitting on one of the logs in the circle, that I’d not seen before. It was about 20 mm long and a lovely chestnut colour. With the aid of an ID book, I concluded that it was a large type of click beetle. I watched it for a moment (it wasn’t doing much!), then carried on with my work and thought no more about it.

    Fast forward to yesterday, I came across Nigel Cuming,(our volunteer entomologist) hunting around in the car park area and I asked what he was after. His reply: 'I’m looking for a large click beetle’. After my brain finally sorted out why this ‘clicked’ with me, I was able to tell him about what I’d seen last week. A quick Google search and he verified that it was indeed the beetle he’d been looking for – Elater ferruginous. A few hours later, having trekked into the wood, Nigel came back a very happy man having found a male of the species."

    Elater ferruginous is a rare beetle in the UK, classified as RDB1, and there are few previous Suffolk records. Shortly after Nigel confirmed its presence at Minsmere, Irene headed into the woods and discovered another female - see photo below. Our wardens also report seeing several around the reserve, so it may have been overlooked previously. This large click beetle requires red-rot oak in which its larva feeds. Perhaps it has benefited from the increased quantity of dead wood after last autumn's storms.

    Oh, and the collared pratincole is still around today along with a great selection of waders. If you still don't know what a collared pratincole looks like, see Nick Brown's stunning photo in our gallery here.

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

  • 21 July 2014

    A collared what?

    After the excitement of last week's run of rarities, attention has focused on two main parts of the reserve this - and for once it's not the reedbed.

    The buddleias have continued to attract a good range of butterflies. Red admirals, peacocks and graylings dominate numerically, but it's the continued presence of one or two silver-washed fritillaries that has been the star attraction here. A close second has been the broad-bordered bee-hawkmoth, although neither has been easy to locate at times. There has been no further sightings of the yellow-legged (or scarce) tortoiseshell, although others have since been found in Kent, Norfolk and Lincolnshire at least.

    Elsewhere, the most numerous butterfly on the reserve at present is the beautiful orange and brown gatekeeper, especially wherever bramble is still in flower. Several purple hairstreaks can be spotted in the oak canopy, occasionally descending to feed on bramble or even buddleia flowers. While out on the dunes and other grassy areas you may spot common blue, small and Essex skippers and brown argus - some of our smallest butterflies.

       

    Gatekeeper (left) and small skipper butterflies. Both photos by Ian Barthorpe

    The other part of the reserve attracting a lot of attention is the Scrape, especially East Hide. Our collared pratincole has now completed a full week in residence, and although it disappears for long periods it has been added to many visitors' lists during its stay. Hundreds of twitchers have been able to spot this elegant wader and it to their Suffolk list at last - 18 years after the last county record. But many other visitors on being advised to look for it have replied with phrases like "collared what" and "I've never heard of that". With lots of eyes looking for it from the hides, even the most casual of visitors have had the chance to see this rare visitor.

    The pratincole is far from the only wader on the Scrape though - up to 24 species can be seen from East Hide alone at the moment. Peak wader counts this week include: 99 avocets (down from the recent 200+), 6 little ringed plovers, 58 lapwings, 6 knot, 3 sanderlings, 88 dunlins, 3 ruffs, 92 black-tailed godwits, 15 spotted redshanks, 6 greenshanks, 2 green sandpipers, 4 common sandpipers plus single golden plover, little stint, curlew sandpiper, bar-tailed godwit, wood sandpiper and turnstone. Add in a few oystercatchers, ringed plovers, redshanks, snipe, curlews and whimbrels and that's a pretty impressive list.

    And it's not just waders either. The summer build up of little gulls reached 58 today. The tern flock on East Scrape peaked at 100 common terns today, joined by several Sandwich and little terns and an adult arctic tern. 

    With so many gulls, terns and waders all in a variety of different plumages (adult, juvenile, summer, winter, and various intermediate stages of moult) it's a real test of your ID skills. Luckily, we often have a volunteer in the hide to help out, but if in doubt why not take a photo to help us to identify the bird for you later. You can share your photos in our gallery, of on the RSPB Suffolk Facebook pages, or by mentioning @RSPBMinsmere on Twitter.

       

    Curlew sandpiper (left) and common sandpiper - two of the waders present on the Scrape. Both photos by Jon Evans

    Don't forget too, that we regularly update sightings, events and management news on Facebook and Twitter, so check the links for the latest information.

    Of course, there are still good sightings in the reedbed too including bitterns, marsh harriers, bearded tits (a great video was shared on our Facebook page yesterday), reed and sedge warblers and hobbies, plus a nesting pair of great crested grebes at Island Mere. There's lots of dragonflies too.

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

  • 16 July 2014

    Surprise visitors from afar

    With migration in full swing, July often brings an unexpected visitor or two to the Suffolk coast, but nothing could really prepare us for the events that have unfolded this week.

    The excitement began on Monday morning when our Senior Site Manager, Adam Rowlands, called on the reserve radios to say that he thought he had a large tortoiseshell butterfly in his garden. This was potentially a first reserve record of this rare migrant, which used to breed in the UK, so a handful of us rushed across to take a closer look. Sure enough, sitting on the bungalow guttering was an unusual tortoiseshell butterfly. It was slightly larger and paler than the familiar small tortoiseshell and had a slightly different upperwing pattern. After consulting a field guide and taking a few photos we alerted other colleagues to have a closer look.

    The butterfly promptly flew to the top of the bungalow roof to soak up the sun, before eventually providing excellent views as it fed on nectar from a buddleia bush. There had clearly been a large arrival of migrant butterflies as the bush was full of red admirals and large whites, with a few painted ladies, as well as newly emerged peacocks, a few graylings and commas and even a purple hairstreak. Unfortunately, it was difficult to arrange wider access that day.

    Large tortoiseshell would have been a new species for most of us, but things were about to get even more exciting. During the evening questions were asked on Twitter (@RSPBMinsmere) about whether we had ruled out yellow-legged tortoiseshell. After some internet research I discovered that this butterfly, which had only once been seen in the UK (in the 1950s) had been seen in large numbers in Holland over the last couple of days - for the time ever. The two species are very similar, apart form leg colour, so easily confused - especially when you're not even considering one of them! My photos didn't show the legs, but others did, and we were able to confirm the identification as yellow-legged tortoiseshell, also known as scarce tortoiseshell. They usually occur in eastern Europe and are very rare in the west.

         

    Photos by Robin Harvey. A short video clip by David Fairhurst clearly shows the yellowish legs - https://vimeo.com/100827316

    Luckily the butterfly was still present on Tuesday, so we arranged for guided access to the garden to watch it. A few visitors were lucky enough to see this amazing butterfly before it suddenly vanished at about 11 am and was sadly not relocated.

    There was some consolation for those unlucky enough to miss this butterfly, as a rare bird was located on the Scrape yesterday morning - a collared pratincole. This was the first time this wader had been seen at Minsmere, or anywhere else in Suffolk, since 1996, so it attracted a lot of attention. Although it could be difficult to spot at times, it also gave some great views as it flew over the Scrape in pursuit of insects, or simply jumped to catch flies. Collared pratincoles breed in Spain, locally elsewhere around the Mediterranean, then from Greece eastwards through central Asia and only a handful visit the UK each year. The bird is still on the Scrape as I type.

    There's a superb variety of waders on the Scrape at the moment as birds pass through on migration. The most numerous species are avocets (upto 200) and black-tailed godwits (upto 150), but there are also several spotted redshanks, ruffs, green and common sandpipers, greenshanks, dunlins and little ringed plovers, as well as the odd wood sandpiper and whimbrel. There's also an increasing number of little gulls (36 today) and a few common, little and Sandwich terns, while a spoonbill was spotted on Monday too. This week we are planning to open the seasonal path to view the North Levels pools, which are also great places to spot waders and herons and give a different view of Minsmere's reedbeds.

    The tortoiseshell isn't the only rare insect seen at Minsmere this week either. Two of our most distinctive day-flying moths have been seen on the buddleias at the visitor centre too - the hummingbird hawkmoth and the relatively similar broad-bordered bee-hawkmoth. The latter can regularly be seen patrolling from flower to flower, with it's bee-like colouration.

    Broad-bordered bee-hawkmoth by Ian Barthorpe

    With so many eyes looking at buddleias it's perhaps not a surprise that other insects have been seen too, including a varied mix of hoverflies and bees. And today we've found another rare butterfly, at least as far as Minsmere is concerned. The silver-washed fritillary is one of our largest butterflies and has slowly been colonising parts of East Anglia in recent years. This is at least the third consecutive year that one has been seen at Minsmere suggesting that they might be breeding locally. It too, has favoured the area in front of the visitor centre, though it has been quite mobile.

    With so much excitement our bitterns, bearded tits and marsh harriers may be feeling a bit left out, but they're continuing to show well too, and  a few hobbies remain over the reedbed. And, of course, many of our commoner plants, birds and insects can still easily be spotted as you wander around the reserve.

    Posted by Ian Barthorpe

How you can help

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

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Your sightings

Grid reference: TM4767 (+2km)

Great White Egret ()
18 Aug 2014
Red-footed Falcon ()
31 Jul 2014
Collared Pratincole (1)
27 Jul 2014
Ferruginous Duck ()
20 Aug 2014
Marsh Harrier ()
20 Aug 2014
Water Rail ()
20 Aug 2014
Avocet ()
20 Aug 2014
Little Ringed Plover ()
20 Aug 2014
Black-tailed Godwit ()
20 Aug 2014
Ruff ()
20 Aug 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

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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.

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