Next week is half term for our local schools, so we've arranged a varied selection of fun activities for families, if the weather doesn't scupper our plans too much.

On that point, it's worth noting that we currently expect to be open as usual this weekend, although it is likely that paths through the woods, including the path to Bittern Hide, will be closed for safety reasons. If the weather warning is increased from yellow to amber, then we may have to close at short notice (as happened during Storm Ciara last Sunday). Similarly, we may have to close at short notice if significant damage occurs. Any decisions to close all or part of the reserve will be notified via our Facebook and Twitter pages (you don't need an account to see these posts).

Our family activities start on Monday when we'll be making nestboxes as part of National Nestbox Week. This activity, which will be repeated on Tuesday and Wednesday, runs from 10 am to 4 pm. There is no need to book - just pay in the visitor centre on arrival. The event costs £6 per box or £10 for two boxes, plus entry fees are payable for non members.

On Thursday 20 February, we will welcome back the Waveney Bird Club for their first bird ringing demonstration of the year - they'll then be back every Thursday from April to October. This is a very popular event with adults as well as children. You'll learn all about how and why birds are ringed and discover the amazing information gained through ringing. You'll also get the chance to see familiar (and perhaps less familiar species) up very close and personal as the experienced ringers weigh, measure and ring the birds. This is a free event (usual entry fees are payable), and also runs from 10 am to  4pm.

A dunnock after being ringed

In addition to these led activities, we'll be reopening our secret fairy trail through the woods on Monday (it won't be open this weekend due to the wind warning). This is a fun self-guided trail through a usually closed section of the woods. Please ask at the visitor centre for details.

Halfway along this trail is a fairy post box, where visitors are encouraged to post notes to the fairies that live in the woods, The fairies have shared some of the messages that were posted over Christmas, and below is a summary of these. Several included requests for Christmas presents, or pleas for the fairies to show themselves:

  • My wish is that I want the pixies, the fairies, the hobbit and every other magic creature in the woodland will have a lovely life
  • Dear Pixie, can you make me do well in my opera (yes, that was from a child)
  • Can you help me make a nature garden
  • Shannon and Danny's first Minsmere Experience together. Thank you for this lovely trail. More adventures to come! (I think this might have been written by two adult visitors!)
  • I wish I saw wildlife everywhere
  • To the pixies, I wish I could meet you
  • Thank you leaves for making food
  • Hello wild things, how are you today? Could you grant my forest wish. Can you plant more trees please?
  • I know you probably can't make this dream come true, but I really want to find a pixie
  • Dear Pixies, Surfer Rosa is the best album you have written. Head carrier was rubbish. (They're obviously talking about different Pixies - the rock band!

We also have our regular guided walks, including a winter wildlife wander on Tuesday and a beginners walk on Wednesday. For full details of upcoming events, please click here.