• Crooners return

    Some of the most famous singers in the world have been referred to as crooners. Think Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole or Marty Wilde. The term may not be in such common usage these days - I can't see it being used for Ed Sheeran, for example - but it is an apt word for a bird that has what might be the described as the best songster in the UK: the Nightingale.

    Nightingales are summer migrants, spending the winter in…

  • Little cousins

    The two most popular birds at Minsmere could both be described as little cousins of bigger, more familiar species. One is a regular visitor, though often difficult to see. The other was a completely new species for the reserve.

    Let's start with the newcomer. When news came in of five Scaup at Island Mere on Sunday morning, local birdwatchers got quite excited as this is an unusually high count for this seaduck at Minsmere…

  • Welcoming back old friends

    Guest blog from Minsmere volunteer and resident, Mark Solomons
    Spring is here though not without its unpredictability from frosty mornings to blazing sunshine and days in which it seems we experience all four seasons in 24 hours.
    But what is predictable are the arrivals, particularly for those of us with the good fortune to live within the boundaries of Minsmere.
    While many arrive laden with binoculars, scopes and cameras…
  • Martins return

    Following on from last week's blog where I celebrated the return of the Chiffchaff, this week has seen the return of another typical early spring migrant. Our first three Sand Martins returned on Monday and immediately started to investigate burrows in the recently steepened sandy cliff beside the cafe terrace.

    It's always great to watch the Sand Martins hawking for insects and swooping in and out of their burrows…

  • Pink Gull

    Guest blog by volunteer guide David Staff

    Last Sunday an unusual sight was to be seen on East Scrape at RSPB Minsmere.

    A pink Seagull gripped the visitor attention for most of the afternoon.

    A Black-headed Gull, whose white feathers showed a glorious flamingo orange pink colour.

    I decided to find out what was going on.

    Some gull and tern species do commonly show a pink flush, particularly in the breeding season, Little…

  • "Chiff chaff chiff chaff"

    Chiffchaffs are gorgeous little birds. They may not have the bright colours of a Goldfinch or obvious features like the Robin's orange-red breast, but they are bang full of character and are typical harbingers of spring. Or are they?

    Although most Chiffchaffs in the UK are summer visitors, arriving on our shores from late March and leaving in October to spend the winter in Spain or North Africa, increasing numbers…

  • Storks, Cranes and Egrets

    Tall, long-legged birds have definitely dominated the sightings reports on our guides' radios this week, some more expected than others.

    It's no longer a surprise to hear reports of Great Egrets around the reedbed, along with the more typical Little Egrets, Grey Herons and Bitterns. In fact, yesterday I spotted eight Little Egrets in front of North Hide, and watched two Bitterns flying between Bittern Hide and the…

  • Volunteer Diary 3

    The latest diary entry from Hide Cleaning and Trail Maintenance Volunteer, Lou Goom
    The verges change at every turn as I near the reserve; from pavement, to grass, to gorse, and finally, there are woods all around. I imagine this place at night. There would be the sharpened smell that comes with sunset - of leaves defrosting, composting, of Fox territory, of spring fungi colonizing broken branches.  Skeletal budded branches…
  • Up close with nature

    It may be bit of a cliché, but nature never ceases to amaze me. However many times I walk around Minsmere, I invariably encounter something unusual, unexpected or simply bizarre. It may an unusually high count of a certain species - as with the recent record counts of Shoveler and Pintail - or a surprise meeting with a Slow Worm or Stoat on the path. Sometimes it might be something exceptionally rare, like the Humpback…

  • Volunteer Diary 2

    Guest blog by Lou Goom, Volunteer Hide Cleaner
    It is 13 February and the race is on to finish ground clearance close to breeding sites. Soon these critical spots will fill with nests and fawns and burrows. Having been rained on until I was rained off the week before, I am back to clear the parking and pathway areas of spiky growth that could snag on visitors' clothes.
     
    Two Marsh Harriers circle…
  • Nature's clues

    I've talked a lot about water recently, but today I'm turning my attention to mud. After so much rain, it's perhaps not a surprise that some of the paths are a bit muddy in places. This means there's also a chance to look for footprints - if you can spot them before they are trampled by the boots of passing human visitors!

    Among the prints you are most likely to find are deer tracks, known as "slots". These…

  • Swan Lake

    The last week has been perfect for visitors who wish to brush up on their swan identification, or enjoy the rare opportunity to see all three UK swan species in close proximity, with counts of up to 12 Whooper and 11 Bewick's Swans joining the resident Mute Swans on the Scrape.

    Mixed flock of swans and ducks on East Scrape

    The two "wild" swans (those that migrate to the UK for the winter) can be tricky to separate…

  • Volunteer Diary 1

    Guest blog by Volunteer Hide Cleaner, Lou Goom

    25 January 2024.

    Litter Picking & Tidying the Hides

     

    My first task of the day brings my first wild encounter. Collecting my kit from the wardens' store, I have a litter grabber to hand, so move to pick up a loose scrap of fabric circling in the low breeze. Luckily, I recognise it is the minuscule, purposeful scuttling of a velvet-coated shrew along the perimeter of the…

  • Wonderful Wetlands

    Today is World Wetlands Day, which celebrates the signing of the RAMSAR Convention recognising Wetlands of International Importance. This important international convention was signed in the Iranian town of Ramsar on 2 February 1971. Minsmere is one of many Ramsar sites in the UK and across the world, reflecting it's importance for wetland wildlife. This is also just one of the many national and international conservation…

  • Water levels falling

    After several drier days it's great to see water levels finally returning to some sort of normality, with islands and banks reappearing on the Scrape. In fact, water levels have dropped so much that we were finally able to reopen the Sluice Track on Monday, for the first time since mid October, meaning that it's now possible to walk right round the Scrape again. The hides are all open again, too, although the tide…

  • New records

    It's certainly been a good week for duck watchers at Minsmere. With water levels slowly falling, and more semi-dry land appearing around the edge of the Scrape there have been great feeding opportunities for hundreds of ducks, especially close to North Hide and along the central bund on East Scrape. Add in the frost, which has left large parts of the Scrape frozen, and forced the ducks into tighter flocks, and there has…

  • Sizewell C - What now for Wildlife?

    Construction work has officially started for the Sizewell C project on the Suffolk coast. Hundreds of thousands of you supported our Love Minsmere campaign over many years to ensure the development properly took nature into account. While we did what we could, the UK Government approved the scheme without what we believe are the necessary safeguards. Sadly, nature is the loser here.

    Read on to find out more about what…

  • What do y'ermine?

    It's not often that I start our sightings round up with mammal news, but then it's also not often that we see Stoats in their white winter coats this far south. Stoats are beautiful animals whenever you them, with their lithe bodies, shiny chestnut coats, white chin and black-tipped tail. In southern parts of their range, most will stay like this throughout their lives, but in the north they moult their coat in winter…

  • New Year, New List

    Happy New Year.

    As I've mentioned before in these blogs, I'm one of those birdwatchers who likes to keep lists. In particular, I like to record how many different birds I see in a year. Therefore, in the first few weeks of the year I get just as excited by our commonest birds as some of the more unusual ones - not that I'd ever say that I see any bird without getting excited! Even a Chaffinch or Blue Tit counts the same…

  • Review of 2023

    As we move into the final few days of 2023, and pass the shortest day of the year, it feels a little bit like our wildlife is settled, awaiting the longer days of spring, so this seems a good time to look back on what 2023 has had to offer.

    First, though, is a summary of this week's highlights. On the Scrape, the flocks of ducks continue to hide the odd Goldeneye, Tufted Duck or Pochard among them, and the two Whooper…

  • Guided walks in 2024

    Have you ever been on a guided walk or family event at Minsmere?

    We have something for everyone, from beginners walks to personalised tours, birdsong to fungi, dawn walks, dusk walks, 4x4 tours and pond dipping.

    You can find full details of all our events, and book your tickets at www.events.rspb.org.uk/minsmere.

    Ticket sales are already open for all events starting before 20 June, and will open six months before the event…

  • Craning your neck

    When the call went out from one of our volunteers this morning that four Common Cranes were flying our way, I rushed outside and scanned the sky. To no avail. Despite being such big birds, and usually calling noisily, I could see or hear them. Five minutes later Peter called again. The Cranes were now over the wardens office. Running up to the car park, I again scanned high in the sky, then just caught a sight as they…

  • Counting down

    I'm sure many of you are counting down the days this month. Counting down to Christmas (especially if you have children/grandchildren). Counting down the days to the shortest day, after which the nights will finally start to shorten. Counting down the days until you can start counting up again as you start a new list.

    Counting is something that many birdwatchers do all the time, either consciously or subconsciously…

  • 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…

  • 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…