• Bird song, water voles and the joys of home

    Guest blog by Vicky Bolton, RSPB Minsmere Learning Assistant

    In January of this year I relocated to the rural town of Halesworth, only a stone's throw from my childhood home near Lowestoft. Being busy with two jobs, I barely spent any time in my new home, let alone in its green spaces. Well, now is my chance to discover what wildlife awaits me in my local patch.

    I’d given myself the challenge to develop my bird I…

    • 6 Apr 2020
  • Missing Minsmere

    Guest blog by Phil Riley, Minsmere visitor centre volunteer

    Its Friday 3 April 2020, my alarm has just gone off on my phone to tell me time to go to Minsmere for duty on reception. Three weeks of social isolation and nearly two in lockdown has passed and the garden has become a haven for humans as much as wildlife. I am fortunate to have a bit of garden for the family of five and dog to share.

    We have two feeder stations…

    • 6 Apr 2020
  • Beeflies and birds of prey star in volunteers' gardens

    As you may have read in yesterday's blog, our volunteers have been busy in their gardens, watching some of the amazing wildlife that we can find close to home.

    If there's one good thing to come from the current closure of our reserves, it's the opportunity to spend more time at home and exploring our local area properly. I know that I've already discovered some new footpaths and unearthed a few potentially productive…

    • 4 Apr 2020
  • A volunteer's wildlife garden

    Guest blog by Peter Phillips, RSPB Minsmere volunteer guide 

    My garden abuts open fields at the back and is edged by a good variety of larger trees, although primarily oak and ash, and a mixture of well established deciduous and evergreen hedges.

    I am lucky enough to get a reasonable variety of birds and this year I have already seen returning chiffchaff and a female blackcap drinking at the pond since my isolation started…

    • 3 Apr 2020
  • And the winner is...

    In these difficult times, when we're all locked away in our homes, bar our one piece of daily exercise, and unable to enjoy visits to our favourite nature reserves, it's great to be able to bring you some good news. The results of this year's RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch have been announced this morning, and there's some news for some of our best-loved garden birds.

    Despite a long-term fall in numbers, the…

    • 2 Apr 2020
  • Robins bring cheer to Stu's happy place

    Guest blog by Stu Precious, Membership Fundraiser

     

    Hi, my name is Stu. Usually, by day, I’m a Membership Fundraiser for the RSPB and as part of my workload, I can often be found in the Visitor Centre at Minsmere. However, like the vast majority of the rest of us, I’m now effectively under house arrest until some semblance of normality returns. 

    I am fortunate in having a safe place within walking distance…

    • 1 Apr 2020
  • Tracking hidden wildlife

    One benefit of the current closure of our schools and nature reserves is that I am getting to spend much more time with my son, as we both try to work from home. Of course, for both of us the working day is a little different from what we are used to, but I'm lucky that Thomas is happy to get on with the work that his teachers have set, allowing me to find some productive work time during the day. 

    It's far from all…

    • 31 Mar 2020
  • Wildlife close to home

    I hope everyone is keeping safe. 

    In these strange and changing times, it's important for many of us to retain our daily contact with nature, even though we can no longer get out and visit our favourite nature reserves. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, then the wildlife will readily come to you, as I have discovered this weekend. Spending more time at home means more time to sit and watch the garden, and yesterday…

    • 30 Mar 2020
  • Where it all began

    In these enforced times of absence from Minsmere, I promised that I'd share a mix of alternative stories, including a look back through the archives. With that in mind, I'll begin by recalling some of my own earliest birdwatching memories.

    My own birdwatching memories go back more than 40 years to Christmas 1977 when I was given membership of the YOC - the predecessor of RSPB Wildlife Explorers - and my first…

    • 26 Mar 2020
  • Adjusting to life away from Minsmere

    Well it's now been a week since my last visit to Minsmere, and it feels pretty strange. Over the last 17 years, I've been privileged to work at this amazing nature reserve in the heart of the Suffolk coast. During that time, the reserve been a massive part of my life. I've seen some incredible wildlife, met some fabulous people, and been able to enjoy daily walks in nature. Now, suddenly, that's all gone, with no time…

    • 25 Mar 2020
  • Minsmere is now closed

    We are sorry to say but with immediate effect today (23/03/2020) we will be CLOSING RSPB Minsmere nature reserve until further notice.
    In line with the latest Government advice on social distancing and cleanliness, we have closed the car park, all trails and the hides to prioritise the health and welfare of our staff, volunteers and visitors.

    The latest information on the RSPB’s response to coronavirus can be found on…

    • 23 Mar 2020
  • Adjusting to life at home

    Firstly an apology for lack of recent sightings updates. As I'm sure you can realise, things have been a little bit chaotic this week as we try to work out exactly what's happening with the current Covid-19 crisis.

    The most important thing at this time is that we make every effort possible to keep everyone safe - our staff, volunteers and visitors. As a result, as you may have read in my post earlier this week…

    • 20 Mar 2020
  • Covid-19 update and important information about Minsmere's facilities

    Following the latest government advice we have made the difficult decision to close our visitor centre, café and shops] to visitors from tonight (Wednesday 18 March). This is to prioritise the health and welfare of our staff, volunteers and visitors.

    These are difficult and unsettling times for all of us but we hope that nature can provide a welcome respite in whichever form and wherever you may encounter it. We…

    • 18 Mar 2020
  • A Mother's Day treat

    Are you still looking for somewhere to take your mum to treat her on Mother's Day? Perhaps you are a mum and would like to drop some hints to family members?

    A visit to Minsmere is always a special treat, but this year we have something extra special for mums: an exclusive guided walk to explore hidden parts of the reserve with our volunteers followed by a delicious cream tea in the cafe.

    The guided walk will take…

    • 12 Mar 2020
  • Spring in our step

    Guest blog by Mark Solomons, Minsmere volunteer

    It may not always feel like it but spring is here and with it the regular Tuesday morning Spring Walks with Charles Cuthbert.

    Three hours of trekking through the oomska after yet another night of rain brought a small but enthusiastic group of us close to an abundance of adders, gadwalls to godwits, a close-up view of a pair of obliging bearded tits and lots more besides…

    • 11 Mar 2020
  • Toad of Toad Hall?

    When you work at such as an amazing place as Minsmere, it's easy to take things for granted. We come to know where to expect to see certain species - as you read in Whistling Joe's latest post about adders. But that doesn't mean that there aren't a few surprises hiding out there, ready to catch you out. I encountered one such surprise today: a common toad.

    This really should not be a surprise. When I…

    • 10 Mar 2020
  • It's spring!

    This week saw the official start of spring, according to the Met Office, who mark the change from winter to spring on 1 March - although others go with the spring equinox on 21 March as the key date. Whichever date you mark spring by, a walk around Minsmere gives a clear indication that spring is very much upon us, with adders, booming bitterns, displaying buzzards and marsh harriers and the return of Mediterranean gulls…

    • 3 Mar 2020
  • Wet and windy wild weather

    In the week that I've been away, there's been some significant changes among our wildlife, but some things remain the same. Not least among these, is the weather, which remains wet, windy and wild. There's been a welcome respite today, but it looks like the stormy conditions are set to return later in the week. Luckily, it doesn't bother the wildlife too much.

    One consequence of the rain is that the paths…

    • 25 Feb 2020
  • I really want to find a pixie

    Next week is half term for our local schools, so we've arranged a varied selection of fun activities for families, if the weather doesn't scupper our plans too much.

    On that point, it's worth noting that we currently expect to be open as usual this weekend, although it is likely that paths through the woods, including the path to Bittern Hide, will be closed for safety reasons. If the weather warning is increased…

    • 14 Feb 2020
  • Out for the count

    Every month, teams of volunteers head out around wetlands throughout the country to undertake detailed counts of the birds using our rivers, lakes, estuaries and coasts. These counts are part of the Wetland Birds Survey, known as WeBS, and they generate some incredibly important data. WeBS counts began in 1947, and the survey is run by a partnership between the RSPB, BTO (British Trust for Ornithology), WWT (Wildfowl and…

    • 12 Feb 2020
  • Showing off

    It's that time of year when many of Minsmere's often harder to spot species become easier to find as their usual reticence to put in an appearance is overcome by the desire to show off in an effort to attract a mate.

    That's certainly the case in the woods, where birdsong is increasing by the day, with chaffinches, great tits and marsh tits now joining the chorus alongside robins, wrens, dunnocks, blue tits and…

    • 5 Feb 2020
  • Springing forth

    It may only be the end of January, but there are already plenty of signs that spring is just around the corner. You only have to set foot outside, whether here at Minsmere, at home or int he office, to notice the increase in birdsong. Robins are particularly vocal, and you may be lucky enough to have a song thrush or mistle thrush singing locally. Our woods are full of singing blue, great and marsh tits, wrens and dunnocks…

    • 28 Jan 2020
  • Not the nine o'clock smews

    Maybe not, but we are pleased to welcome back a single female-type smew, known as a redhead. This small, fish-eating, diving duck is an increasingly scarce winter visitor to the UK, as milder winter mean that they choose to stay in Denmark or the Netherlands, rather than continuing eastwards. It's arrival coincided with the first notable frosts of the winter, which resulted in large parts of the Scrape and Island Mere…

    • 23 Jan 2020
  • Simply the best

    If you're reading this blog, you probably know this already, but it's now official: Minsmere is simply the best. Yes folks, in a very close fought battle, we have been voted Site of the Year in the Birdwatch Magazine/Birders' Choice Awards for 2019, pipping our friends at RSPB Frampton Marsh by just seven votes! This is a great recognition of the amazing job done by our wardens and volunteers to keep Minsmere…

    • 15 Jan 2020
  • A needle in a haystack

    New Year's Day always brings birdwatchers out of the woodwork as they look to start their year list off with a bang. Many of them will head to Minsmere, where there is always a good chance of spotting some of our elusive species and getting them on the list early: bittern, water rail, bearded tit and Cetti's warbler will all be among the target species, for example.

    For those visiting Minsmere on New Year's Day…

    • 9 Jan 2020