The current spell of stormy weather has brought a bit of unpredictability to a day out. With conditions changing from full sun to torrential rain in the space of few minutes, it's definitely a case of timing your walk well. My drive home last night was interesting, to say the least, but at least we haven't suffered from the flooding affecting many people this week

As a birdwatcher, autumn gales also bring the prospect of unusual visitors. The steady stream of low pressure systems streaming across the Atlantic brings the possibility of rarities from North America: ducks, waders, warblers or thrushes could all arrive on our shores this week. Obviously these are most likely to be found on western coasts, in places such as Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly, Ireland or Shetland, but just occasionally they are found in Suffolk, too. 

More exciting for those of us living on the East coast is the forecast of easterly winds on Friday night and throughout the weekend. Easterlies in autumn means migrants begin to arrive from northern Europe, so we can expect to see the first redwings, fieldfares and bramblings arriving. With them will come migrant blackbirds, robins, starlings and goldcrests. The latter may be accompanied by yellow-browed warblers from Siberia, or perhaps even something rarer. It's certainly worth spending some time searching the scrub this weekend, although you may get a bit wet on Sunday.

Goldcrest by Jon Evans

With that in mind, why not book onto one of our guided walks this weekend and let our enthusiastic, knowledgeable volunteers help you in your search.

On Saturday, Phil and Derek will be leading an Amazing Autumn Wildlife walk, starting at 9.30 am. As well as newly arrived migrants, they'll show you wintering ducks, and late insects and flowers that they find, and some of the fascinating fungi that are now popping up around the reserve. You can book this walk here.

David will be your guide on Sunday for our latest Birds for Beginners guided walk. He'll teach you the basics of birdwatching - how to use binoculars properly, which fieldguide to use, how to use behaviour or shape as well as plumage to help with identifying a bird. This walk starts at 10.30 am - perfect for a leisurely Sunday morning breakfast beforehand - and you can book your place here.

This weekend we're also pleased to welcome back Viking Optical of Halesworth for another Binocular and Telescope Open Day. Our shop staff and volunteers are well trained and available to help you to choose the best binoculars or telescope for your needs whenever you visit, but these open days always ensure that we're able to devote even more time and effort to you, helping to make sure your investment is perfect for you. We will have the full selection of RSPB and Viking products available, plus our usual products from some of the leading suppliers, such as Leica, Swarovski and Kowa. As an added bonus there's a special offer on Leica's top of range Noctivid binoculars (pictured below), with a massive £250 off both the 8x42 and 10x42 models from tomorrow until the end of October. If that's outside your budget, then the RSPB 6.5x32 HD’s are now priced at £379, a superb saving of £100.

If you are planning on visiting us on Sunday then you'll also be pleased to hear that we have a very exciting indoor event as our Minsmere Makers' and Crafters' Market returns. Previous markets have been very popular, with several of our local artists and crafters displaying and selling their wonderful products, and chatting to visitors about how they make them and what inspires their work. One of the exhibitors will be our warden, Paul Green, with his superb Wildwire birds and animals (kingfisher pictured below). This event takes place in the Discovery Centre from 10 am to 4 pm.

With the current forecast being for rain on Sunday, you can visit the market, chat about binoculars and treat yourself to a cake or cheese scone n the cafe, without having to walk more than a couple of hundred metres from your car. Perfect.

Finally, if you are not available this weekend then you can find details of all our guided walks and family events between now and March on our website at https://ww2.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/find-a-reserve/reserves-a-z/events.aspx?reserve=Minsmere 

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