Saturday, 13 June 2015

RSPB Minsmere #Springwatch

I haven't been to Minsmere in a long time, but since Springwatch was on, some friends and I decided to make the trip last weekend. It was so busy; great to see so many people out enjoying wildlife! Before I get started with what we saw where, here's a species list from my nature journal:

Our first sightings of the day were the many sand martins gliding to and fro from the sand bank where their young were snuggled in their nest holes. I lost count as were sitting in the cafe, fueling up before our long afternoon. After we had made our way round to look properly at this bank, we also noticed a large dragonfly in the pond next to the platform, which I tentatively identified as a four spotted chaser. I love dragonflies, but struggle to identify them, so I was very pleased when I later verified my initial id.

In the first hide we got to, we had wonderful views of young, long legged and large footed avocets patrolling the shore line of the small islands and skimming the surface. We watched the adult avocets aggressively chasing away other birds, even a befuddled barnacle goose who didn't seem to quite work out what was happening. A little egret also performed its stalking and fishing techniques right in front of the viewing window. There were black-tailed godwits a plenty and we heard the occasional explosion of a cetti's warbler around the reserve.

On our walk to the next hide, I was very excited to get views of both male and female bearded tits, despite the strong gusts of wind. They were keeping low, but were still visible from time to time, they were too quick for my camera though. Fantastic to see them, this is the first time I have had proper views of them, and only the second time I have seen them at all (the first was one week earlier at Lakenheath Fen). My next aim will have to be to photograph them in the wild! Also on our walk we came across a shallow stretch of water, where we could see male, female and the fry of stickleback, as well as males fanning their nests. The photo I took through water in bright sunlight isn't great, but hopefully is a token to 'Spineless Si' from Springwatch! On the same stretch of water, I spotted my second Odonata species of the day; a blue-tailed damselfly.

On another walk between hides, we also heard the calls of a young great-spotted woodpecker and were lucky enough to spot it with its head poking out of its tree hole nest. We also saw the adult visit and feed a couple of times too. Another bird that decided to be photogenic was a male chaffinch who appeared in very good condition and voice on a low branch above us.

After these two encounters, we acquainted ourselves with a reptilian, a tagged adder, protected by fencing and well camouflaged until it decided to move to a (perhaps) warmer spot.

At our final hide of the day, we saw more waders and a graceful mute swan with her four young cygnets. A very peaceful end to a packed afternoon of great wildlife. Thank you RSPB Minsmere, we'll certainly be back again!

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