Friday, 11 March 2016

March 11th Minsmere

A misty view of Minsmere and Island Mere Hide
Today is my 30th birthday and I went out to Minsmere with my mum to celebrate. Minsmere usually never fails in providing me with something special for my birthday in the past and I was hoping that today is no different. I guess the first of these pleasent surprises comes in the form of a bright sunny day. Though it was misty and then hazy at times, it was still warmer than it has been this week. The view of the reserve from on top of the hill where the Springwatch studio building is was rather beautiful as we made our way using a different route than normal to the Island Mere Hide.

Grey Squirrel
Marsh Harrier with nesting material in its talons!
There had been reports this morning of otters, bitterns and bearded tits at Island Mere Hide and so we decided to visit this hide first today as it was one of the furthest on the reserve. It seemed that everyone had the same idea as the hide was packed. Because of this, we did not stay for long and that meant we did not stay to see if any otters or bitterns would turn up. However, we did see displaying marsh harriers and we saw one bringing in nesting material into a spot in a reedbed. This nest building behaviour doesn't usually start until about April. Normally, these birds just perfom aerial displays to form partnerships. I could hear plenty of calling and there has been talon grappling and even mating being reported from the harriers here at Minsmere. So I guess one of these couples are ready to take it to the nest building stage. Also from this hide, we saw a little egret and heard plenty of calling water rails, bearded tits and Cetti's warblers.

Little Egret
As we made our way to the Bittern Hide from Island Mere Hide, we walked alongside the adder trail in the hope of seeing one. Amazingly, we found a small crowd that gathered around one spot on the trail and there basking in the sunshine beneath a small bramble bush was a male adder. You can tell it is a male due to its silvery skin and the bold black zig-zag pattern down its back. It looks big in these photos, but it is actually pretty small. It took me a short while to see it even though I was directed to it by someone in the crowd. If it wasn't for the keen eyes from this crowd, I would have walked past it without knowing it was there. The camouflage on this tiny snake is incredible.

Shortly after seeing the adder, we came across two goldcrests in the fir trees nearby. As you know, I struggle to photograph these constently moving tiny birds. I was chasing them from branch to branch with my camera, taking shots of empty branches or blurred shapes of these annoying birds. But then, I got lucky and got this shot. Finally! I managed to get a brilliant photo of a goldcrest at last!

Bittern Hide was a bit disappointing as it did not produce a bittern today. A couple of little grebes, a coot, a couple of mute swans and some graylag geese were the only things about here. So, we decided to head back to the visitor centre for lunch.

Little Grebe
After lunch, we went in search of the smew that were reported at East Scrape. We visited the two hides along the beach side of the reserve and saw lots of great things including avocets, godwits, pintails, oystercatchers, a stonechat and lots of black-headed gulls, but there was no sign of the smew. The sun was bright over the scrapes and produced a misty haze that made it hard to see beyond a certain distance. This meant that everything was harder to identify near the far end of the scrapes and if there were any smew about, they would be out of clear sight towards the back of the furthest islands here.

Godwits and an Avocet
Black-headed Gulls
Herring Gull
Mute Swan
Muntjac Deer
On the way back, we came across two muntjac deer. One was on the heathland part of the reserve and was slightly distant, while the other was under the cover of some trees alongside our path, very close indeed! It soon gradually fled from us as it heard an aproaching couple who were talking casually. We also saw a green woodpecker, lapwing and a small flock of starlings this afternoon. It has been a great birthday visit. Minsmere has delivered again!

1 comment:

  1. Happy Birthday Sean. What a great way to celebrate a special day.