I only had time for a quick walk at lunchtime today, but it was enough to see Minsmere at its best, in gorgeous sunshine.
My first destination was the Wildlife Lookout, where I hoped to finally catch up with the Glossy Ibis that has been proving elusive for the past week. I was in luck today - as were most other visitors - as it was preening on the bank, looking absolutely stunning in the sun. It certainly lived up to its name, with the green and purple sheen on it's upperparts really catching the sun. Sadly it was a bit too distant for a decent picture, so here's one of last year's birds.
Close to the ibis I was delighted to watch a couple of broods of humbug patterned Shelduck ducklings and several broods of Avocet chicks, with their ever vigilant patterns ready to chase away marauding gulls. It's also good to see a significant increase in Black-tailed Godwits, with at least 65 present on West Scrape, as well finally catching p with my first Common Sandpiper of the year.
Elsewhere on the Scrape, our volunteers have reported a typically varied mix of birds, including Black-headed, Mediterranean, Common, Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Kittiwakes, Common Terns, Lapwings, Shovelers, Gadwalls and Mallards. There are also still one of two Sandwich Terns, Little Terns, Dunlins, Turnstones and Teals present.
From Wildlife Lookout, I called in briefly at Bittern Hide where despite only stopping in the hide for five minutes I enjoyed excellent views of six Hobbies, several Marsh Harriers, a flying Bittern and a Grey Heron. Other sightings from here today included Kingfisher and Stoat.
Hobby by Nigel Smith
Onwards to Island Mere, where again I only stopped for five minutes or so. Again, my luck was in as even in this short period of time I saw two Common Cranes and a Great Egret flying over the reeds with three Hobbies, several Marsh Harriers, while on the mere itself were Great Crested Grebes and Coots with young, Tufted Ducks, Cormorants and Mute Swans. Reed and Sedge Warblers and Reed Buntings sang from the reedbed, and visitors reported good sightings of Bearded Tits earlier. The only disappointment was that I couldn't locate the Purple Heron that has put in a few appearances in flight over the last couple of days. Like the ibis, this is a potential future colonist in the UK, benefiting from a warmer climate and moving north to escape droughts in the Mediterranean.
Purple Heron by John Gilbody (taken in 2017)
Another overshoot from southern Europe, but one that sadly no longer breeds regularly in the UK is the Golden Oriole. This is always a tricky bird to find in the UK, being a rare visitor that sings only occasionally and is very difficult to spot in the canopy. so one towards the western edge of the reserve has attracted several twitchers over the last three days. The Golden Oriole has been heard along Clay Lane - a dirt track that connects the Westleton and Eastbridge entrance roads - but there is very limited parking nearby so if it remains tomorrow please consider walking from the Minsmere car park rather than blocking passing places. Please check at reception for the latest news.
Other highlights seen this week include Broad-bodied and Four-spotted Chaser dragonflies, Large Red, Azure, Common Blue and Variable Damselflies, Orange Tip, Red Admiral, Peacock, Speckled Wood, Small Copper and Brown Argus butterflies and Southern Marsh Orchids.
Southern Marsh Orchid
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