Monday, 23 May 2016

RSPB Minsmere

Saturday I joined Havering Local RSPB Group's trip to Minsmere in Suffolk. Overcast on arrival with a brisk south-westerly, it remained dry with spells of sunshine during the afternoon and a few drops of rain as we boarded the coach to leave at 5pm.

The woodland was looking good with bluebells carpeting the ground and bird song all around, Blackbirds, Chaffinch, Blackcaps and Chiffchaff were all singing, a burst of song close by from a Wren but alas he remained out of View, A walk along the Adder trail produced n sightings of these enigmatic reptiles, but a Garden Warbler singing was a bonus but only showed briefly. Good views from both the Bittern Hide & Island Mere Hide of Marsh Harriers with A Bittern booming, some were lucky enough to catch flight views of this reedbed specialist. Bearded Tits were 'pinging' away and occasionally showed well, but the stiff breeze was keeping them low in the reeds.

Between Island Mere and Scotts Hall we spotted Variable & Blue-tailed Damselflies along with a Hairy Dragonfly. Butterflies included Orange-tip, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell.
Hairy Dragonfly
Retracing my steps back to the 'Adder Trail' sun was breaking through but still no sign of any Adders! A Cinnabar Moth provided a distraction as did newly emerged Damselflies sunning themselves on the brambles. A Hobby appeared overhead and hung in the wind for a few seconds before disappearing from sight, my only Hobby sighting of the day!
Cinnabar Moth
I headed off to view the scrape area and spent some time in South Hide. A pair of Avocets showed nicely with many more around the scrape. A Ringed Plover was feeding right in front of the hide, a group of seven Kittiwakes were sat in a line and remained distant as did the Little Terns.

Little Terns

Ringed Plover
Swallows, Sand and House Martins were feeding low over the reeds and giving great views, the pair of Swallows appeared to be using the sluice again as a nesting site. Walking north along the public dunes footpath I had for me the wildlife moment of the trip! An Adder was happily laying bang in the middle of the path, not a particularly big one and probably one of last year's young. He and I say he as the dark zig-zag markings were particularly black had probably not been laying there long as the path was busy with people enjoying the afternoon sunshine. As a few stopped to admire him, he decided to slither off to the safety of the longer vegetation. A wonderful wildlife encounter!

From the East Hide a Redshank was quite close, while a summer plumaged Turnstone remained distant as did twenty odd Black-tailed Godwits. Black-headed Gulls were easily the most numerous breeding species around the scrape, with smaller numbers of Common Tern, Lapwing and Redshank.
A scan from the Stone Curlew viewing area proved unsuccessful, they were out there, almost certainly distant and with a heat haze combined with their excellent camouflage they eluded me, I did see a Mistle Thrush though and loads of young rabbits
From North Hide were two distant adult summer plumaged Mediterranean Gulls and an extremely close young Rabbit, I just had to pap it!
young Rabbit
The Sand Martin bank was fairly busy with birds coming and going, but no visit to this wonderful reserve is complete until you've had a slice of home-made cake and a cup of tea, lovely!

As we gathered outside the visitor centre a Goldfinch came down for a drink, a great end to another wonderful day out with my local RSPB group!

Important - Firstly thanks for reading this blog to the end, if you were on this trip I really do hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. If you weren' could have been, there were spare seats on the coach and we really need to fill them with bums, to ensure days out like this continue to happen! Our next coach outing will be in September and you can find out more during the summer HERE