• Fire and rain (and wind)

    It's been an interesting week so far, with some exciting sightings, dramatic weather and near misses, and today has been no exception.

    As reported in my last blog, the week started with the discovery of a rough-legged buzzard that spent most of Monday afternoon resting in a tree alongside the South Levels, where it was viewable distantly from Bittern Hide. Unfortunately for anyone hoping that it would linger at Minsmere…

    • 10 Jan 2019
  • Travellers from the East

    Yesterday was Epiphany, the 12th day of Christmas, when Christians celebrate the arrival of the Magi, or three wise men, at the stable in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. The Magi travelled many miles from the East to reach the stable. Whatever your religious beliefs, this story seems rather apt based on some of the sightings over the last few days as birds have been arriving from the east.

    First, came the small flock…

    • 7 Jan 2019
  • Act now to protect Minsmere

    Do you love Minsmere? Silly question, really, as you wouldn't be reading these blogs if you didn't!

    If you do love Minsmere, then we need your help. Here's why.

    This morning EDF opened the third phase of their consultation into proposals to build Sizewell C power station close to the southern border of Minsmere. We have concerns about the impact that this development could have on Minsmere, especially with…

    • 4 Jan 2019
  • A great start to 2019

    Happy New Year.

    I hope that everyone managed to find some time to relax over the Christmas and New Year period, and also to spot some wildlife.

    Here at Minsmere we were only closed for two days (Christmas Day and Boxing Day) so there was still plenty of opportunity to end the year with some relaxing birdwatching. As well as the species that we expect to see at this time of year - marsh harrier, bittern, various ducks…

    • 3 Jan 2019
  • Christmas greetings and opening arrangements

    I hope everyone is ready for Christmas now. Presents bought and wrapped. Turkey, beef or nut roast ready for the oven. Sprouts peeled. Mince pies cooked. Family gathered together.

    Here at Minsmere we're almost ready for our short Christmas closure. Once we close the doors at 4 pm tonight, Minsmere is completely closed until 9 am on Thursday morning. That means that the hides, nature trails, car park and toilets will all…

    • 24 Dec 2018
  • Sunset starlings

    The radios crackled into life late on Thursday afternoon to say that starlings were gathering on the Scrape. The excitement levels rose in the office as word spread that several thousands had started displaying behind South Hide. I didn't get a chance to go out then, and wasn't at Minsmere over the weekend, so tonight was the first chance that I had to head out and watch the spectacle for myself.

    And what a spectacle…

    • 17 Dec 2018
  • Spinning around

    Despite the title of this blog, we're not expecting a visit from pop princess Kylie, but we have been treated to visit from a creature that habitually spins around. The species in question is a tiny wading bird that breeds in the high Arctic of Canada and Siberia and migrates south to spend the winter at sea off the coasts of West Africa and South America: a grey phalarope.

    In the UK we know it as a grey phalarope…

    • 13 Dec 2018
  • Species of the week: hawthorn

    There was a noticeable drop in the temperature this morning, resulting in ice on my birdbath for the first time this winter. After scraping the frost off the car windows, I was tempted to stop several times on my drive to work, such was the incredible light across the Suffolk countryside.

    As i reached Minsmere, the temperature was still falling, so it was little surprise to hear that part of East Scrape were frozen this…

    • 11 Dec 2018
  • Species of the week: whooper swan

    Winter is officially here, at least in meteorological terms, when winter starts on 1 December - unless you follow the lunar calendar, in which case it doesn't start until 21 December. I use a different measure for recording when winter starts, and this date varies from late October to mid December. My measure is the first time I see a winter swan - by which I mean whooper or Bewick's swan.

    For me, winter this…

    • 4 Dec 2018
  • Species of the week: sea mouse

    And now, to coin a phrase from Monty Python's Flying Circus, it's time for something completely different. Over the past 18 months, my species of the week blogs have looked at a variety of Minsmere's characteristic species, from birds to butterflies, mammals to trees, even fungi to digger wasps. Most have been relatively easy to spot, at least in season, although for some of the trickier species you may need to ask…

    • 26 Nov 2018
  • Species of the week: otter

    Many visitors have made their way down to Island Mere Hide over the few weeks in the hope of seeing our bitterns. I'm sure that they've not really believed us in reception when we've said that they WILL see a bittern and that it is likely to be close to the hide, yet sure enough, they've returned to the visitor centre an hour or so later with beaming smiles, eager to show us the photos they've taken. We've almost lost…

    • 20 Nov 2018
  • Minsmere Makers' Market

    We're really excited about a brand new event that is being launched at Minsmere tomorrow - our first ever Makers' Market.

    Minsmere has many talented volunteers and staff who fill what spare time they have with a variety of arts and crafts, and this is a chance to see some of their amazing creations, in one place.

    Among the exhibtitors will be artists Louise Gibbs and Janet Small, who visitors might recognise from…

    • 17 Nov 2018
  • Species of the week: beech

    Welcome to the new design of the RSPB Community pages. It certainly looks a bit different. With the work now completed, we're able to start posting again, so here's this week's slightly belated entry for our species of the week series.

    Having featured the bittern for the second time last week, I can't really feature them again, but they are still performing to all comers at Island Mere, as this photo, taken…

    • 14 Nov 2018
  • Minsmere's military history

    As we approach the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1, it seems like a good time to look back at the years just before the RSPB acquired Minsmere as a nature reserve, when the area played a significant part in the efforts to defend the UK during the Second World War.

    The low lying Suffolk coast was seen as a likely target for German invasion, so various measures were put in place to defend this vulnerable coastline…

    • 7 Nov 2018
  • Species of the week: bittern (version 2)

    For the first time since this species of the week series began 18 months ago, this week I am featuring a species that has already been covered once. I've been trying to avoid doing so, but with our bitterns continuing to break every rule in the book, I can't continue to ignore them any longer.

    As regular readers will know, since our wardens and volunteers cut back the vegetation at Island Mere Hide, the bitterns…

    • 6 Nov 2018
  • Species of the week: long-eared owl

    There seems to be something about Wednesdays this month. I think we may have to rename them as rare bird Wednesdays, as for the second week running we've been treated to superb views of a rare visitor to Minsmere, even if this week's doesn't quite come up to the standard of last week's!

    First, as I was away for the second half of last week, I suppose I'd better mention last week's visitor. Minsmere's…

    • 31 Oct 2018
  • Species of the week: Dartford warbler

    With ducks and herons often dominating the reports from our guides at the moment, it's nice to hear of regular sightings of some of our smaller birds too, and it's one of these that is the focus for this week's species of the week blog. The bird in question is the Dartford warbler; a bird typically associated with heathland but that has become a regular feature along the dunes.

    Dartford warblers are distinctive…

    • 23 Oct 2018
  • Species of the week: willow emerald damselfly

    It may seem strange to be focusing on an insect as this week's star species, giving that it is now mid October, but there are still goon numbers of this and several insects flying at Minsmere. The autumn sun has made for a very pleasant day today, and the insects have certainly been out in force as a result, especially the dragonflies.

    It comes as a surprise to many people to see dragonflies and butterflies flying…

    • 17 Oct 2018
  • World Migratory Bird Day

    Today is World Migratory Bird Day, when our Birdlife International partners around the world come together to celebration the wonders of migration. There will be mass participation birdwatching events, bird counts, surveys, workshops and other events in countries on every continent.

    Here at Minsmere we celebrate birds and migration every day, and there are always some incredible migration stories. For example, we've…

    • 13 Oct 2018
  • Species of the week: cattle egret

    Regular readers of my blogs will know for the last 18 months or so I have been featuring a species from our 70 species to spot at Minsmere challenge. This was launched in spring 2017 to celebrate Minsmere's 70th birthday. If I had stuck strictly to focusing on species form this list, i would, by now, be about to write the last of this series, However, I have strayed away from the list a few times to feature other interesting…

    • 10 Oct 2018
  • Species of the week: Cetti's warbler

    Since the Beast from the East struck in February, a walk around Minsmere has been bereft of one of our most familiar sounds - until now. Where once it was hard to walk more than a few hundred metres without hearing a strident burst of song from our many Cetti's warblers, this spring it was almost impossible to hear one at Minsmere. Then a few weeks ago we began to hear the tentative song of young birds tuning up near…

    • 4 Oct 2018
  • The pool of despair comes up trumps again

    Many rare and interesting birds have been spotted at Minsmere, and in recent years one small reedbed pool has been home to some of the most unexpected. Wind your clock back to July 2015 and you might remember one of the biggest surprises (in every sense of the word big) when a black-browed albatross briefly settled on this pool. Almost exactly 12 months later, the same pool was the scene of a large twitch after the discovery…

    • 27 Sep 2018
  • Species of the week: speckled wood

    After a rather wet and wind few days during which it really felt like autumn had arrived (yesterday was, after all, the autumn equinox), today has seen a welcome return to blue skies and bright sunshine. Indeed, it looks like we could be in for several days of warm sunny weather this week - perfect for spotting some of the late insects still on the wing at Minsmere.

    As i strolled around the North Bushes in the early…

    • 25 Sep 2018
  • High wind warning

    Please be aware that you are planning to visit Minsmere over the next few days there may be some disruption due to the forecast high winds.

    With a Met Office yellow warning for gales tonight and tomorrow, we will be closing all woodland sections of the visitor trails. This means that there will be no access from the visitor centre to Wildlife Lookout, or via Bittern Hide to Whin Hill. There will also be no access through…

    • 20 Sep 2018
  • Species of the week: windhover (AKA kestrel)

    Continuing the theme of last week's blog, I'm pleased to say that there are lots of windhovers and riphooks around the reserve at the moment. Of course, this might not be such good news for the small mammals and dragonflies that they're eating, but for me it's an absolute joy. Windhovers, you see, are among my favourite birds.

    It all goes back to my childhood, when I first became a member of what was…

    • 18 Sep 2018