Monday, 22 February 2016

Feb 22nd Minsmere

It is my first visit to Minsmere for 2016. The sightings board had a few interesting things on it that have been reported from earlier this morning. A spoonbill at the scrapes, bitterns, otters and snipe at Island Mire Hide and two firecrests at an area of rhododendron at the furthest corner of the reserve. It was a case of where to first.

Female Pheasant

Little Egret
As North Hide was the closest of the hides around the scrapes, Mum and I went there first to see the spoonbill. But when we got there, there was no sign of the spoonbill. The nearest thing to a spoonbill we could see was it's smaller cousin the little egret. There were a few of them fishing in the pools, shaking one of their yellow feet to attract a fish. Little egrets are entertaining to watch, but they are nothing compared to a spoonbill. With the spoonbill nowhere to be seen, we moved on to the woods and for Bittern Hide and Island Mire Hide.

Marsh Harrier
Bittern Hide was relatively quiet save for a few mute swans and a marsh harrier. Island Mire Hide was a little better with a few more swans and harriers and a few greylags. No bitterns, snipe or otters, though at one point the volunteer inside the hide with us thought he could hear an otter squeaking. But after a scan around the lake without any sign of any otter, I came to the conclusion that it was actually male marsh harriers calling as there were a few displaying nearby. We could see a few females in the area too, but I think the displays are more about territory than pairing up to mate at this stage. We also heard calling water rails and Cetti's warblers somewhere in the reedbeds surrounding the hide.

Mute Swan
Blue Tit
Leaving Island Mire Hide, we decided to try our luck with the firecrests. Several birdwatchers had the same idea and were already searching for them amongst the rhododendron. There was no sign of them either, though I did hear reports that they were still there when we returned to the visitor centre. It seems like I had no luck with anything I wanted to see today, but at least I saw a treecreeper and some blue tits foraging the mossy tree trunks for something to eat on the way back from the rhododendron patch.

Blue Tits on the coconut feeder outside the visitor centre
After lunch, we walked down to the beach and to East Hide. Along the way, we saw lots of rabbits and a few stonechats and goldfinches close to the path. A flock of avocets were flying over the sea and from the hide, we saw dunlin, lapwings, shelducks, turnstones and a marsh harrier which swooped low over them and scared them up into the air with a few brave birds mobbing the harrier to chase it away. It hasn't been the most memorable of visits to Minsmere that I have had. But though there weren't anything as exciting as an otter or a spoonbill or even a firecrest, the things I have seen have been just as wonderful. I may have seen them over and over again, and I can see them anywhere, I still enjoy watching them.

Goldfinches and a Stonechat
Mallard and Redshank
Turnstone, Redshank and Mallard

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