As we come to the end of another decade, I'm reminded of the lyrics of an ABBA track from 40 years ago, the third verse of which ends:
"It's the end of a decadeIn another ten years timeWho can say what we'll findWhat lies waiting down the lineIn the end of eighty-nine"
In his blog a couple of days ago, Matt shared a summary of the highlights from the last ten years, which got me thinking. What will the next ten years look like, and what wildlife surprises will they bring? One thing is certain, there will be highs and lows?
I'm not going to make predictions about what species are added to Minsmere's list over the next decade, because no-one would have predicted the addition of black-browed albatross, western purple swamphen or Cretzschmar's bunting. I will, however, confidently predict that species as great white egret, purple heron, white stork and cattle egret will continue to establish themselves as breeding birds in the UK, and perhaps even nest somewhere on the Suffolk coast.
Great white egret
Sadly, the next ten years may see us lose birds such as turtle dove and nightingale as breeding species in many areas, possibly even the Suffolk coast, if the dramatic declines of the last 40 years continue, despite our best efforts to provide them with ideal nesting habitat.
It's also likely that the recent trend for weather extremes will continue, with hot summers, wet winters and torrential rain becoming the norm unless governments and businesses take immediate action to reduce global temperature increases - and, of course, we can all do our part too.
Rather than gazing into my (non-existent) crystal ball, I prefer to look ahead just a few weeks to one of the biggest events in the RSPB's annual calendar: Big Garden Birdwatch. This annual survey began in the same year as the ABBA track quoted above was released, with the first survey in January 1979 being open only to our junior members, and promoted very successfully through BBC Blue Peter. I took part in that survey, and have continued to take part in most years since. I'll be looking ahead to this year's survey, which takes place from Saturday 25 to Monday 27 January. You can register to take part yourself, and find all details about how easy it is to join in at https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/
What will you see in your garden during this year's survey? I'll stick my neck out and predict that at least one of your regular garden visitors will be absent during your chosen hour. With luck something unusual will turn up too. Over the years I've been lucky enough to see goldcrest, reed bunting and song thrush during the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend. Will you be one of the half a million people taking part this year?
Back to Minsmere, though, and the flood waters are slowly beginning to recede. There is still no access to Wildlife Lookout and South Hide, but both bides might be accessible in wellingtons tomorrow. You can now reach East Hide, with care, in good waterproof walking boots, but wellingtons are recommended. North Hide and the beach are fully accessible, and the Island Mere circuit is fully accessible in good waterproof shoes.
It's certainly worth visiting Island Mere, too, with regular sightings of otters for the last two days, plus kingfisher, snipe, whooper swans, Cetti's warbler, bearded tit and marsh harriers. The high water levels on the Scrape mean that it's mostly ducks to be seen from those hides, while Dartford warblers and stonechats are regular along the dunes.
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