Thursday, 12 March 2015

March 12th RSPB Minsmere

Mum has brought me to Minsmere to continue my birthday for one more day. It was a lovely day and I was hoping that it would draw some adders out to bask in the sunshine. We searched everywhere between Bittern Hide and Island Mere Hide where they are normally found, but no luck. On our way to Island Mere Hide, we heard a tawny owl hooting (something must have disturbed it's slumber!), green woodpeckers laughing or yaffling, a bittern booming (it was more of a bark than a boom really) and saw a goldcrest high up in some trees.

At Island Mere Hide, little grebes were yodelling their calls, water rail were screeching somewhere hidden in the reeds and a marsh harrier delighted Mum (she loves seeing them). We also found lots of small fish which I believe are three-spined sticklebacks under the bordwalk leading to the hide.

Three-spined Stickleback
Bittern Hide seemed to be popular today and for good reasons. As soon as we entered the hide, we had people pointing us to a bittern out in the open. Apparently it has been out here for half an hour before we arrived! It was wading along the open water towards a reedbed and even then it remained to be visible. We watched as it patrolled the edge of the reedbed, moving slowly and fishing en route, getting closer and closer to the hide. I have never seen a bittern fishing before and it was very good at it. It was like watching it in slow motion, slowly lowering its head, neck and body one by one, inch by inch into position. A leg moves stealthly for a better foothold. A moment passes. Then, BAM! It strikes and swollows its catch whole. This bittern caught a lot of fish before it finally melted into the reeds. Mum has never seen a bittern this well before and I was happy with what I got with my camera.

Lunch at the visitor centre's cafe is always popular as there is always a show to watch out from the windows in the form of the bird feeders. There were so many birds coming to the feeders and on the ground below feeding on the food dropped by the others above. Goldfinches, chaffinches, great tits and blue tits were the most numerous, but the feeders also attracted a blackbird, dunnocks, magpies pheasants and even a female reed bunting. Entertainment while you eat, now that's service!
Female Reed Bunting
Female Pheasant

Bird's-nest Fungus
After lunch, we went to the pond nearby with a boardwalk over it. It was the boardwalk I was interested in as something I wanted to see was growing there. Bird's-nest fungi are curious looking things. As there name states, they look like a nest a bird has made with white eggs in them. But the scale is minature. They are about 1mm each! How did anyone find them in just one tiny spot on the boardwalk in the first place I would love to know! The 'eggs' by the way are spore sacs which pop to release the spores.

Lastly, we walked towards the beach and to one of the hides there. Avocets were busy feeding and the spits and islands were full of gulls (mostly herring, lesser black-backs and the odd great black-backed gull, which are big birds with jet black wings and pink legs). We also found a couple of linnets and a few pintail ducks with a few males bearing a long, pointy tail and chocolate brown head. It was a great extension to my birthday, but that bittern stoled the show.
Great Black-backed Gull
Bottoms up!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, love that birds-nest fungi Sean. What a lovely couple of days you've had and the weather has been amazing.
    Sorry I couldn't arrange the otters at Strumpshaw- maybe next week!