Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Sep 4th Minsmere

Little Stint
What's this? An outing to Minsmere on my own a day after the successful yet tiring trip to Winterton! Yep, it sure is. Mum dropped me off to this former HQ to Springwatch this morning so that I could spend the day birdwatching while she went to see her sister who lives not too far away. Compared to my previous visit to Minsmere back in July, there is a feeling that autumn is here and is much cooler. At the scrapes, the avocets and the black-headed gulls have dispersed leaving the place rather quiet. In fact, I could only spot just a single avocet and the gulls were more interested in sleeping than making a lot of noise. The breeding season has long since been over, but there are still plenty of interesting birds around. Most of them, such as the little stints and some of the other waders that you can see here have arrived from their migration south from their breeding grounds across the Artic Circle.
Avocet with Black-tailed Godwits
Black-tailed Godwit (with Ruff sleeping behind it)
Dunlin with Little Stint in the centre
Spotted Redshank
Ringed Plover
Common Sandpiper
Green Sandpiper
Wasp Spider
September is a great time to look for spiders. Not only are they invading our homes more, but they are also decorating everything with their webs. One spider in particular has my interest. The wasp spider is the UK's largest web-building spider and one of the most colourful. Not only do they look striking with their black and yellow wasp-like stripes, they also produce a very distinctive web. In the long grass along the edge of the fence bordering the beach trail, their large vertical webs have a zig-zag pattern in the centre. I've never seen a wasp spider on British soil before. They are a fairly recent species to the UK, travelling across the English Channel from mainland Europe as spiderlings being carried over by the wind and are now establishing themselves, especially here at Minsmere. So I'm very pleased to have finally seen one here at long last. Such a superb spider. I think even arachnophobes can appreciate this one.
Orb-web Spider
Meadow Grasshopper (I think)
Not sure
Konik Ponies
Marsh Mallow
Cormorants, Gadwall and Grey Heron
Moving from hide to hide around the scrapes, my list of birds was growing steadily. Spotted redshanks, common redshanks, common sandpiper, green sandpiper, ringed plover, black-tailed godwits, sandwich terns, wigeon, gadwall, dunlin, little egrets, lapwing, feral barnacle geese, greylags, Canada geese, ruff... However, it was at Bittern Hide that produced the main bird highlights of the day. Though all quite distant to photograph, a red kite soared past the direction of the scrapes, followed by a kestrel and then a great white egret caught my eye briefly as it plunged down into a pool hidden behind a dense cover of reeds. At the Island Mere Hide, cormorants, gadwall, 2 mute swans and a grey heron with a few marsh harriers flying above the reed beds behind them was the best it got from this hide but was enough to satisfy me as I made my way back to the visitor centre to wait for Mum to pick me up.
Cormorant and Grey Heron
Grey Heron
Blue Tit
Ruddy Darter
Tawny Funnel? (Not sure)
Great Mullein

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