• Spring has sprung (if only briefly)

    The last few days have seen a very welcome early arrival of spring, with beautiful blue skies, bright sunshine and unseasonally mild temperatures. It looks like the mild weather is set to continue for a few more days at least - we're just hoping that the bitterly cold weather we experienced at the end of February last year doesn't return.

    With such mild weather, it will not be a surprise to hear reports of the…

    • 15 Feb 2019
  • Book Review: Mrs Pankhurst's purple feather

    I've just finished reading a fascinating book that profiles the contrasting lives of two Victorian women in their parallel quests for change. One is the eponymous Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst - one of the leaders of the suffragette movement. The other is Mrs Etta Lemon, co-founder of the RSPB.

    Both ladies were campaigning for change, and both fights were long and fraught with turmoil. Ultimately, both were successful,…

    • 12 Feb 2019
  • Red heads and tufties

    The recent cold snap was, thankfully, nothing like as bad as last year's Beast from the East - at least not here in Suffolk. It was, however, cold enough to attract a scarce visitor from the continent in the form of a smew. Apart from a two day bird in December, this was our first smew of the winter, continuing a trend from the last few years of very late arrivals: this is the third year in a row that a smew has arrived…

    • 6 Feb 2019
  • Generating our own electricity

    Anyone who has visited Minsmere over last week will have noticed a new addition to landscape: solar panels.

    We're demonstrating the RSPB's commitment to reducing global carbon dioxide emissions, and are installing a series of solar panels across several RSPB reserves: Minsmere, Arne, Leighton Moss, Bempton Cliffs, Old Moor, Saltholme and our HQ at The Lodge.

    On most of these reserves the solar PV panels will…

    • 5 Feb 2019
  • Time for a guided walk

    Are you an early bird? Then perhaps you'd like to book a space on our very popular dawn chorus guided walk, which is followed by a delicious full English breakfast. 

    Would you like help with birdsong? Then the Sounds of Spring guided walks could be just for you. You'll get a light breakfast after these popular walks.

    Are you new to birdwatching? Then why not book on a Birdwatching for beginners walk this spring…

    • 1 Feb 2019
  • Wintry wetlands

    There's definitely a wintry feel to the weather this week. In fact, it was snowing on my drive to work yesterday. We have more snow forecast tonight, and again for Thursday, so if you're planning to visit us this please take care and check our Twitter feed for the latest updates about whether we're open, or the state of local roads. 

    If, like many people, you are longing for the return of warmer weather this…

    • 29 Jan 2019
  • Volunteer Voices: George

    January's Volunteer Voice is our hardworking conservation intern George Hannan

    I became an intern with the RSPB because I’ve always had a love for nature. Since an early age I’ve always been interested in the wildlife around me and what happens outside of a classroom. 

    After school, I went to college to study and learn about the countryside and wildlife. After two years of study, I then did a degree in the…

    • 27 Jan 2019
  • Reedbed management in action

    It feels a bit wintry again this week. In fact, following heavy frosts over the weekend, most of the of the Scrape and reedbed were frozen throughout Sunday and Monday, with birds congregating around patches of open water on South Scrape and in the middle of Island Mere. Although it's been milder today, parts of West Scrape and Island Mere remained frozen, and with more cold weather forecast we expect ice cover to increase…

    • 22 Jan 2019
  • Ducking and diving and bobbing

    Ducks always dominate the wildlife sightings at Minsmere in January, and this week has been no exception. In terms of numbers, the most numerous species, as always, is teal, followed by wigeon, mallard, shoveler and gadwall, with smaller numbers of shelducks among them.

    Drakes are at their best in midwinter. Their colours are incredibly striking, and many are already displaying to attract the drabber females. This makes…

    • 18 Jan 2019
  • 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