As we approach a new decade, it's time to take a breath and look back on the last 12 months, and the last decade.
Little terns by Ian Barthorpe
Minsmere’s Scrape seabird colony goes from strength to strength. Over 3000 pairs of gulls and terns nested this year, including the first nesting little terns since 2009 (10 pairs fledged 7 young), the most productive year for nesting Sandwich terns since 1977 (50 pairs fledged 28 young), the highest number of nesting common terns since 1974 (200 pairs) and the first ground nesting kittiwakes in Suffolk ever.
Wood sandpiper by James Davidson
36 species of wader were recorded at Minsmere this year, the highest total since 2008. 42 species were recorded this decade, the best ten years since the 1980’s. There were reserve record counts for greenshank (65) and wood sandpiper (at least 33).
At North Warren, lapwing productivity was possibly the highest ever with 16 young fledged from 25 pairs. Two pairs of avocet also attempted to breed.
At Dingle Marshes, grey herons nested (successfully) for the first time.
Cetti’s warbler bounced back to 35 pairs at Minsmere and Dingle Marshes (5 pairs last year, and down from 90+ prior to the Beast from the East).
Redstart by Jon Evans
Two male Savi’s warbler again held territory at Minsmere. Singing male redstarts increased from 1 to 10 along the woodland trails - a fantastic achievement and credit to the work by our wardens, volunteers and the Green Light Trust who have developed and managed new areas of the woodland. Nightingales increased by 6 singing males, a very welcome thing to see (and hear!) together with the 9 pairs of turtle doves breeding here. Dartford warblers increased by 6 nests, including a few in the dunes. Marsh harrier nests increased to 10 at Minsmere and 3 at Dingle Marshes. We now have 10 pairs of stone curlews nesting at Minsmere and Dingle Marshes.
Around 230 species of bird were recorded at Minsmere this year including reserve firsts of Pacific golden plover, Iberian chiffchaff and Cretzchmar’s Bunting (grrr!).
13 species of Lepidoptera were added to the reserve list including Marbled White, Dark Crimson Underwing, Dewick’s Plusia and Beautiful Marbled.
Of course we're not just a bird reserve! Thanks to survey work by ecologists, county recorders, visitors and our own volunteers we’ve found more species of bee, wasp, snail, fungi, flora and beetle on site. We’re awaiting news of a potential new fungi species new to science found in the dunes.
Since 2010 we've opened our new Visitor Centre, Island Mere hide and Discovery Centre, doubled our school visits to deliver outdoor education to over 3000 children a year, as well as hosting BBC Springwatch for three years which saw the reserve being beamed into the homes of millions of people as they followed the exploits of curious bitterns, naughty badgers and the internationally famous Spineless Si the stickleback!
We know that 2020 will bring with it new opportunities and challenges, not least climate change and proposed local developments, but we've faced challenges in the past decade and overcome them against the odds. Our Love Minsmere Festival this year was overwhelming with the amount of support from people who know how important this place is, and long may this last.
Happy New Year to all of our visitors, staff, volunteers, neighbours, supporters and partners!
We spend 90% of net income on conservation, public education and advocacy
The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International. Find out more about the partnership
© The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654