• 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
  • Riphooks, Devil Scritches, Bumbarrels & Clodhoppers

    My colleague Alex has been doing a bit of research into some of the names for birds that have been lost form regular usage. Some may have been in widespread use in the past, others were perhaps confined to a single county. Either way, there are some great names among them.

    This research was sparked by a conversation with one of our volunteer guides, Mick, who referred to a dunlin as a "plover's page"

    • 11 Sep 2018
  • Species of the week: bramble (aka blackberry)

    Autumn is often referred to as the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, and with crops being harvested in fields, gardens and allotments it seems only right that I should turn the attention this week on some of the wild fruits that can be found around the reserve.

    Of course, I should, at this point, emphasise the word "wild" as these fruits will sustain our birds, mammals and even insects through the winter or on…

    • 11 Sep 2018
  • Back to school

    Guest blog by Chris Ford, RSPB Learning Officer

    Nothing marks the changing seasons at Minsmere like the arrival of flocks of autumn migrants. This year’s fledglings seeing, for the first time, the scrape, the reedbeds, the woods, the dunes and marvelling at such wonderful habitats full of life and wonder, the excited chatter testament to the thrill of new experiences, learning about themselves and of learning about what…

    • 5 Sep 2018
  • Species of the week: knopper gall

    It's time to return my regular weekly series of blogs highlighting some of the 70 species to spot at Minsmere. Since launching this checklist last spring I've focused on most of the species listed, as well as a couple of additional ones, and this week i turn the spotlight on something a little different the knopper gall.

    First, before anyone starts to correct me, I need to come clean, as technically knopper gall…

    • 5 Sep 2018
  • Species of the week: great white egret

    The summer holidays are drawing to a close, and yesterday's wet weather brought with it the first real sign that autumn is approaching, so it seems like a good time to turn the focus on one our more impressive visitors from warmer climes: the great white egret.

    I say from warmer climes because these large herons are much more widespread across southern and central Europe (as well as much of southern Asia, sub-Saharan…

    • 31 Aug 2018
  • Recent sightings 25th August 2018

    This week we have been mostly learning what 'semipalmated' means, as it doesn't normally come up in conversation, but we've had a rare North American semipalmated sandpiper visiting the scrape. Semipalmated refers to the 'webbing' between the bird's toes, as most waders don't have webbed feet. Normally semipalmated sandpipers breed in Alaska and Canada where the males incubate and raise the young, and make a 4000 mile…

    • 26 Aug 2018
  • Minsmere recent sightings 17th August 2018

    A week of mixed weather has made a pleasant change to the recent heatwave, and has helped to keep the scrape wet for our passing wader species. Over 200 avocets have been joined by up to 50 black tailed godwits, ruff, greenshank, snipe, golden plover, grey plover, green and curlew sandpipers, knot, dunlins and whimbrel. Wildlife Lookout and South Hide have been the best places to be in the afternoons as the birds come…

    • 17 Aug 2018
  • The Missing Monster by Alex Pilling

    Moz’s adventure began when he came to Minsmere with his family to have an exciting day pond dipping! Moz was very excited, not just because pond dipping is super fun but, as all monsters know, the best place to find fellow monsters is lurking in the bottom of ponds!

    Hoping to find some of his fellow monsters, Moz was very enthusiastic helping Violet with lots of dips in the pond. He was so excited to see his monstery…

    • 17 Aug 2018