Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Jan 10th Minsmere

I was dropped off at Minsmere today for a walk. I was hoping to start my bug hunt today, but I couldn't find anything. Not surprising as it is January, a quiet month in the bug hunting calendar. Though I was expecting to find some sort of clues of marine invertebrates washed up on the beach, but the beach was more or less spotless with barely anything to be found. So today became another day associated with my other passion, birds. Out at sea, I saw cormorants and a large flock of common scoters flying over the horizon with the sun shining brightly on the surface of the calm North Sea. Meanwhile, the friendly local stonechats posed on fence posts metres from me as they often do as I walk to the West Hide.

The sun over the sea
Common Scoter

At West Hide, me and one other birder had the place to ourselves and there was plenty to see both out on the scrapes and in the air. There were a couple of avocets, a small flock of dunlin, a turnstone, a few black-tailed godwits, wigeon, shelducks, teal, shovelers, gadwall, mallards, lapwings and a marsh harrier or two scaring them all up every now and then. I then continued my walk around the reserve, making a circuit around the scrapes. I was half way, when I had an urgent feeling in my gut. I needed to go desperately, but it was still quite a walk to the reserve's toilet block back at the visitor centre. Thankfully, I was able to hold it in before something bad happened. Along the way, the pinging of a bearded tit stopped me in my tracks. I could see a male feeding on a reed stem in a ditch alongside the path and was just a couple of feet from me. Unfortunately, a barrier of dense reed cover obscured the focus of my camera and I could not get a photo of it despite how close it was. How frustrating!
Avocet and Turnstone
Black-tailed Godwit
Carrion Crow
Pied Wagtail
Blue Tit
After relieving myself at the visitor centre, there was enough time before lunch for a walk to the Island Mere Hide. While walking up the bridged wooden walkway to the hide, I noticed everyone inside were all up one side, pointing their cameras and binoculars at something. I looked towards the pool over on the right side of the walkway and there, poking out of the edge of a reed bed was a bittern! It was moving about quite a bit in a slow stealthy manner, occasionally stopping to peer down at the pool's surface to try and spot it's next meal. I had a reasonable good look at it for a few minutes before it crept out of view obscured by the reed bed in front of us. There were also a few hundred common gulls and lapwings as well as a few marsh harriers and buzzards flying around and over the mere.
Common Gulls
Black-headed Gull
Marsh Harrier
Grey Squirrel
Mute Swans
Muntjac Deer

I then returned to the visitor centre for lunch after a quick look outside the Bittern Hide in which I only saw a couple of mute swans. Once refuelled with a sandwich from the reserve's cafĂ©, I went out for a short third walk around the bushes close to the North Hide, spotting a green woodpecker flee from the area and a muntjac deer grazing the lower branches of tree. No bugs, but still an enjoyable day out minus the stomach upset.

Blue Tit

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