• More than Starlings

    I sat in Island Mere Hide at dusk night. Nothing unusual about that, perhaps, given that we've had a Starling murmuration for several weeks, but it was special nonetheless.

    I love Island Mere. It's the perfect place to sit quietly and wait for wildlife to come to you. There may be periods with little wildlife visible, but these will be quickly forgotten when any one of an amazing array of wildlife deigns to show itself…

    • 1 Dec 2023
  • Winter has arrived

    It's official. Winter is here. I saw my first Bewick's Swans of the year this week. I never really feel that winter has arrived until I see my first "wild" swans - Bewick's or Whoopers - that have  arrived from the Arctic.

    Both species are easily separated from the familiar Mute Swans by their yellow and black bills, but can be confused with each. However, if you look at the pattern of the yellow…

    • 25 Nov 2023
  • Starlings! WOW!

    After the sad news from earlier in the week, I'm pleased to be able to start this blog with some exciting news. WE HAVE STARLINGS! (With no apologies for shouting, because anyone who knows me know how much I love Starlings.)

    We had the first reports of good numbers of Starlings gathering at Island Mere last weekend, but it was last night before I got the chance to look myself - and I certainly wasn't disappointed…

    • 17 Nov 2023
  • Stan Pyke - a much-loved friend

    This is one of those blogs that I hate having to write. It is with great sadness that we heard this weekend of the passing of Stan Pyke, one of Minsmere's many fabulous volunteers.

    Stan joined the team eight years ago, and quickly became a popular character around the reserve. He was always ready with a joke and a smile, was happy to get involved in a variety of different tasks, and regularly chatted about his work…

    • 14 Nov 2023
  • Surprise surprise

    It remains very wet on the reserve, but despite that there have been a few welcome surprises this week - for the lucky few to be in the right place at the right time.

    High water levels continue to impact on both the wildlife and visitors. The Sluice track remains completely closed, with no access at all from South Belt Crossroads to the Sluice, or to South Hide or Wildlife Lookout. The end of the East Hide boardwalk briefly…

    • 10 Nov 2023
  • LIFE on the Edge

    Regular visitors to RSPB Minsmere will have seen more than just birds, dragonflies and mammals over the last few months as the Scrape has undergone the latest phase of its transformation to ensure that it remains a superb habitat for a wide variety of wildlife.

    Over the last three years, you’ve been able to watch diggers in action as part of our LIFE Nature-funded LIFE on the Edge project during which we have been improving…

    • 9 Nov 2023
  • Wet wet wet

    No, not an 80s pop group, simply a description of the Suffolk coast right now. Like many parts of the UK, we've been badly affected by the recent weather. As you may have seen from Wednesday's quick blog, parts of the reserve are flooded following the unprecedented rainfall of Storm Babet and yesterday's Storm Ciaran.

    Minsmere might be a wetland, but in more than 20 years working at Minsmere (and 15 years visiting…

    • 3 Nov 2023
  • Temporary closure on Thursday 2 November for Storm Ciaran

    In light of the weather warnings in place for tomorrow, due to Storm Ciaran, we have taken the decision to close Minsmere for the day.

    All visitor facilities, including the car park, hides, nature trails and visitor centre will be closed all day on Thursday 2 November. This is to ensure the safety of all our staff and visitors, with gale force winds and more rain forecast.

    We plan to re-open, as normal, from 9 am on Friday…

    • 1 Nov 2023
  • Time for surfing

    With strong easterly winds for the last few days, the sea has been impressive, with white-topped waves crashing against the beach and salt spray coating your lips as you stroll through the dunes.

    In such conditions, it's perhaps no surprise that some of our volunteers and regular visitors have spent long hours staring out to sea this week. For some, they have been richly rewarded with sightings of several species of seabird…

    • 20 Oct 2023
  • Shore to shore

    There's no doubt about the bird that has been centre of attention this week. A beautiful Shore Lark was found around the dunes near the Sluice on Monday afternoon, and continues to show well in the dunes to the north of the Sluice today.

    Most larks easily fit the description of "Little Brown Job," or LBJ as birdwatchers often refer to them. LBJ is a catch all term used when struggling to identify small brown birds…

    • 13 Oct 2023
  • Gosh! Lions and eagles!

    Well, that headline has probably got your attention. 

    We've talked about Minsmere's lions before - antlions, that is. But that's not the subject of today's blog, although form the number of larval pits outside the Visitor Centre it looks like it's been a good year for them.

    No, on this occasion I'm talking about a trio of rare birds of prey that were seen in Minsmere's skies yesterday. First up was…

    • 6 Oct 2023
  • Flying High at Minsmere

    Guest blog by Diane Gooding, Encore East

    On Sunday 17 September, EncoreEast weathered the drizzly rain to take part in two workshops led by one of our own members, Lyn Matthews, at The Discovery Centre at RSPB Minsmere. Other members of the public joined us to participate, and, despite the rain, we were able to take advantage of the beautiful setting, incorporating trees and sculptures into some of our groupwork.

    The theme…

    • 4 Oct 2023
  • Eat, swim, sleep, repeat!

    There is absolutely no doubt what the main highlights have been for visitors this week: Water Voles and Bearded Tits.

    Water Voles are always a crowd-puller, and the family down at the pond have certainly been just that. They seem to have a cycle that goes something like Eat, Swim, Sleep, Repeat. If you're lucky, you will catch the Eat phase, when they will sit on a floating platform of vegetation or the wooden supports…

    • 29 Sep 2023
  • Back to normality

    After the excitement of last week's Buff-breasted Sandpiper, things have returned normal this week - whatever normal is. The natural world is full of unpredictability, so perhaps there really is no normal, but the reserve always feels a bit different when a rarity is seen, with an air of excitement, anticipation, and often frustration, among visiting birdwatchers.

    Normal certainly doesn't mean boring, though. Far…

    • 22 Sep 2023
  • Canadian surprise

    Following on from the theme of my recent blogs, wader migration has been the main topic of conversation among visitors, volunteers and staff this week. In particular, the llong migration undertaken by a surprise visitor to the Scrape.

    Over the weekend we were sent photos of a Pectoral Sandpiper that had been seen on the Scrape on Thursday: a regular autumn vagrant that breeds in Arctic Canada, Alaska and the Russian far…

    • 15 Sep 2023
  • Change is good

    Like many, I tend to be a bit of a creature of habitat. If I only have time for a quick lunchtime walk then I'm inclined to walk out to East Hide to have a quick over the Scrape, perhaps pausing in the North Bushes on route to look for warblers of insects.

    I changed this routine slightly yesterday by returning from East Hide along the beach, rather than the boardwalk, and was duly rewarded with fabulous views of an…

    • 8 Sep 2023
  • Sandpiper central

    Migration has continued apace this week, with the Scrape taking on a new identity as Sandpiper Central Station. First to arrive were up to six Curlew Sandpipers over the Bank Holiday weekend, joining the small flock of Dunlins and Ruffs. As the Curlew Sandpipers moved on, they were quickly replaced by a few Little Stints, only for another small group of Curlew Sandpipers to arrive today.

    Yesterday, it was Common Sandpipers…

    • 1 Sep 2023
  • The next arrival at terminal 5 is...

    More so that at any other time year, late summer and early autumn is the time when the Scrape at Minsmere becomes the avian equivalent of Watford Gap Services or the Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport, with birds arriving, refuelling and departing again as migration continues apace. Some may be leaving these shores to spend the winter in warmer climes in Africa or around the Mediterranean. Others may be arriving to spend the…

    • 26 Aug 2023
  • Migration in full swing

    I'm back folks, so it's time for a belated summary of sightings over the last three weeks. My predication of a major rarity arriving in my absence didn't come true, but it has certainly been an exciting time for migrants passing through Minsmere on route to warmer climes for the winter. But where to start?

    Possibly the most unusual bird, in a Minsmere context, over the last three weeks was a Long-tailed Duck…

    • 18 Aug 2023
  • Summer! What summer?

    It's really hard to know what season we're in. One day it's raining, the next is beautifully sunny. The weather seems to swing between summer and autumn like the pendulum on an old grandfather clock. Spare a thought, then, for our wildlife, especially the insects that rely on sunny weather to allow them to fly.

    Yet, despite this weather, the reserve is absolutely buzzing with insects. Even Buddleia bush is…

    • 27 Jul 2023
  • In memory of Betty Nelson

    We received some sad news this week that one of Minsmere’s best-loved and longest serving volunteers, Betty Nelson, has sadly passed away.

    Betty was a volunteer at Minsmere for more than 30 years, staffing the old Beach Hut, working in reception and, latterly, folding leaflets and sorting pin badges. Betty stood down as a volunteer when the Covid lockdown started in March 2020, at the grand age of 99 years. We were…

    • 25 Jul 2023
  • The emperor returns

    Much like London buses, hot on the heels of last week's report of a Purple Emperor, we've had several more sightings of this huge, impressive butterfly this week. Two were seen near Bittern Hide on Tuesday, then on Wednesday morning we were treated to incredible views as a stunning male flitted between the picnic tables outside the cafe, even landing on one of my colleagues! It went on to spend the morning resting under…

    • 21 Jul 2023
  • Emperors and painted ladies

    The title of this blog may sound like it comes from a Jackie Collins novel (not that I've ever read one), but it actually pays homage to some of the most beautiful and obvious insects seen around the reserve at the moment.

    July is a brilliant time to look for insects. Digger Alley may steal much of the glory, with it's incredible variety of digger wasps and mining bees, but shimmering butterflies and dazzling dragonflies…

    • 14 Jul 2023
  • Spoons and Diggers

    As is often the case in late June/early July, it's been hard to know where best to send visitors recently. It certainly helps if we know what you are most keen to see: for Bitterns or Hobbies go to Bittern Hide or Island Mere; for Avocets or terns go to East or South Hides; for butterflies try the North Wall or Woodland Trail; or for insects in general then head to Digger Alley.

    But perhaps that is simplifying things…

    • 30 Jun 2023
  • Pretty in pink...and yellow...and white...

    Mid June is a relatively static time in the bird world, with most birds settled into the routine of rearing their chicks, so there tends to be little change from day to day in terms of what species are present. That's not to say that there is no change. Far from it, in fact. It may not be midsummer's day until next week, but we're already starting to see the first returning southbound waders on the Scrape.…

    • 16 Jun 2023