• To bee, or not to bee?

    An alternative title could be, when is a bee not a bee? When it's a flower, perhaps! This afternoon I have been to one of the less well visited parts of the reserve in search of another exciting discovery: bee orchids.

    I've regularly seen bee orchids just a few hundred metres south of the reserve boundary, on Sizewell Beach, but I don't recall hearing about any recent sightings on the reserve itself, so I took the…

    • 18 Jun 2019
  • Vagrant dragons, painted ladies & tented homes

    In my last last blog I promised to update on insect sightings, and since then we've spotted a few more goodies, despite the inclement weather. Tuesday, in particular, was a good day for insect watchers, with a notable influx of painted lady butterflies along the dunes. I didn't get a chance to get out myself so missed this influx, but I was pleased to find one of these large migratory butterflies this afternoon. I've…

    • 14 Jun 2019
  • High rise or ground floor?

    Last week we celebrated World Oceans Day. The world's oceans are vital, providing food, regulating our climate, and providing a home for countless different types of wildlife. But they are under threat from pollution - not least the rapidly rising tide of plastic that's finding its way there - overfishing, and climate change. 

    The RSPB works very closely with our Birdlife International partners to protect the world…

    • 10 Jun 2019
  • Volunteer Voices: Henry

    Our Conservation Intern Henry Page describes his incredible experience tracking down our latest rarity, a Cretzschmar’s bunting.

    What I thought would be a normal day at Minsmere RSPB turned into a mega cascade of events. I am currently living on site and involved in the RSPB’s internship program for practical conservation. Living on site has its perks and I am usually out on the reserve long after people have gone…

    • 7 Jun 2019
  • Exciting times

    Why is it that every time I go on holiday something exciting turns up at Minsmere? Not that I should complain as I was watching some amazing wildlife in Scotland. Staying just around the corner from the Springwatch base in Nethybridge, we were lucky enough to spot red and black grouse, ptarmigan, golden eagle, crested tit, pied and spotted flycatchers, redstart, slavonian grebe, three species of diver, osprey, short-eared…

    • 4 Jun 2019
  • Recent sightings 1st June 2019

    Apologies for the late sightings report, we’ve had a busy week! It’s been wonderful to see so many families getting stuck in to our Wild Challenges and discovering our spring wildlife this half-term.

    It looks like we’ve been saving the best until last, as over the last 24 hours we’ve had a broad-billed sandpiper and little stint on the South Levels, a wood sandpiper on the West Scrape, an Iberian chiffchaff…

    • 1 Jun 2019
  • Volunteer Voices: Alice

    We welcome our new Education Intern, Alice Milton

    Growing up in Suffolk and Norfolk I took nature for granted. Maybe not the rare things or the big charismatic stuff, but certainly the little things: watching the house martins return summer after summer; sucking the nectar from a white deadnettle flower; learning which trees could be climbed and which hedgerows hid a secret child-sized hollow inside them.

    That this (the…

    • 30 May 2019
  • More Minsmere bugs

    It's been a buggy-themed day again today, which for me started when my colleague, Stu, rescued this gorgeous cockchafer from the window of the gents' toilets. It was quite happy wandering around on my finger for a few minutes before flying into the safety of the oak canopy. 

    Photo by Stu Precious

    Cockchafers are one of largest and most familiar beetles. So familiar, in fact, that they have many different local…

    • 23 May 2019
  • Little 'uns

    I don't often write two blogs in a day, but following my earlier insect-themed entry I thought I should update you on some of the fantastic birds that have been seen over the past week.

    Perhaps the star birds this week have been our little terns. There used to be small breeding colony of these tiny seabirds on the beach, but as the profile has changed in recent years they've moved elsewhere, and they only visit Minsmere…

    • 21 May 2019
  • Mining nomads and more

    Yesterday was World Bee Day, and as anyone who regularly reads our blogs will know, we like our bees at Minsmere. Not just honeybees and bumblebees, either.

    I've personally always had an affinity with bees as my maternal grandad was a bee-keeper, so I was brought up on home-produced Worcestershire honey. I still insist on buying locally produced honey to spread on my bread for breakfast every day. Yet honeybees, like…

    • 20 May 2019
  • Red and green and pink and orange

    After last week's unsettled weather it's been great to see spring return again this week, with unbroken blue skies and almost no wind bring the insects out in force. My walk to East Hide this afternoon took a little longer than expected as I was regularly distracted by insects.

    First there was my first hairy dragonfly of the year hawking around the pond. When it did eventually settle, it did so in a position where…

    • 14 May 2019
  • A knot for all seasons

    I was never a boy scout and can’t tie many different types of knots, but I can certainly identify a knot of the flying variety when I see one, and yesterday proved to be a great day for spotting knots at Minsmere.

    While there are often one or two knots on the Scrape throughout the winter and spring, these are usually in their drab grey non-breeding plumage. By early May, however, many have moulted into their stunning…

    • 9 May 2019
  • ----> This way to save the planet ---->

    This week the UK government declared that we are in a climate emergency.

    Following the broadcast of BBC’s sobering ‘Climate change: the facts’ and increasing pressure from activist groups such as Extinction Rebellion, the topic of our planet’s future is now once again firmly back on the agenda (how it was allowed to fall off the agenda, we can only wonder).

    Back in 2013 the UN Intergovernmental…

    • 3 May 2019
  • Beginning birdwatching, volume 2: using your ears

    For the second instalment in my occasional series of beginning birdwatching blogs, I explore sound, and the joys of birdsong.

    Whilst learning birdsong is a key part of learning and improving your bird identification skills, I would not ordinarily focus on song before addressing subjects such as equipment and field craft, but as May is the peak month for birdsong, I thought I should strike while the iron is hot, so to…

    • 2 May 2019
  • Let Nature Sing

    Late April and early May always signals the peak arrival of our spring migrants, and maximum variety and volume of birdsong. But did you know that we've lost over 44 million songbirds from the UK over the past 50 years? As a result, many species are now much scarcer, and it has become a red-letter day to hear a cuckoo, turtle dove, nightingale or redstart, for example.

    In recognition of this frightening loss of native…

    • 30 Apr 2019
  • Stilts and reels

    Leave Minsmere for a week at your peril, especially in spring. Luckily it doesn't seem that I missed any real star birds last week, but I certainly returned to some goodies over the weekend. With so many exciting sightings already this week, I can confidently say that spring is here, and migration is hotting up - even if the glorious weather of the last fortnight looks set to end tomorrow!

    There can only be one place…

    • 24 Apr 2019
  • Recent sightings 21st April 2019

    A busy Easter week for visitors and wildlife, mostly down to the warm weather! Hundreds of children have been enjoying the activity trail through the woodland and some fantastic close views of bitterns, otters and adders.

    Star species this week include a cuckoo on Wednesday morning, hobbies over the reedbed, a great white egret at Island Mere and a little owl at the woodland crossroads. We've also heard and seen the return…

    • 21 Apr 2019
  • Volunteer Voices: David

    David's passion for wildlife has drawn him gradually Eastwards, gravitating closer and closer to the beautiful landscapes of Minsmere nature reserve. It's no surprise he volunteered to spend more time here! Here's why...

    I have been a member of the RSPB most of my life. My first visit to RSPB Minsmere was in the late 1970s. I drove all the way from Leicestershire in the hope of seeing an Avocet and can still…

    • 13 Apr 2019
  • Big white birds

    There has been a bit of a theme to our sightings this week, with big white birds with long legs dominating the news. First came the sighting of three spoonbills flying past Bittern Hide during yesterday's Birdwatching for Beginners guided walk. Now that's what I call starting with a bang.

    While spoonbills are hardly unexpected visitors in April, it's still always a pleasant surprise to spot one, so multiple…

    • 11 Apr 2019
  • When the north wind blows

    Over the past month I've regularly reported on the coming of spring, with sightings including incoming migrants, adders, bees and butterflies, as well as an increasing volume and variety of birdsong. After spending the day at the pond yesterday helping to run our family pond dipping activities for the Easter holidays, I was reminded that we are still in early April and winter is still holding a loose grip on us. While…

    • 9 Apr 2019
  • Beginning birdwatching, volume 1: an introduction

    I've just discovered that Tuesday's blog was the 1000th blog that we've written about Minsmere. I can't claim responsibility for all of them, but have certainly written a good proportion of them. We've covered many subjects over the years, from recent sightings to habitat management, family events to BBC Springwatch, international stories to a focus on some of Minsmere's star species during our 70 species to spot challenge…

    • 4 Apr 2019
  • Working together for nature

    A couple of weeks ago I had a rare opportunity to do some actual conservation work. That may sound a strange thing to say for someone who has worked at Minsmere for 16 years and in nature conservation for most of my working life, as surely I'm doing conservation work all the time.

    In many ways that is, of course, true.  I have done my bit to increase support for the RSPB by helping to recruit new RSPB members, managing…

    • 3 Apr 2019
  • Mines and burrows

    The pond area has been the centre of attention at Minsmere for the last few days as our sand martins have begun returning to their burrows. So far the biggest count is about 30 birds, but we're expecting many more to arrive over the next few weeks. The first two swallows were spotted over the weekend, too, and we've just seen the first house martin over the year.

    While the sand martins are investigating their…

    • 2 Apr 2019
  • Volunteer Voices: Linda

    Linda Hammond has been volunteering with us for almost 10 years, from helping with survey work to family events. Now reincarnated as our Administration Assistant, she tells us why she loves it here...

    When we came to live in Suffolk more than 10 years ago, one of the first things I did was to find out about volunteering at RSPB Minsmere. I’d read all about this magical place but living in the north of England we’d never…

    • 27 Mar 2019
  • A touch of gloss

    Regular readers of these blogs will have seen several mentions of our Love Minsmere campaign over the last few weeks. For those who need a quick recap, we're asking EDF to take full account of the importance of Minsmere during the planning and construction of the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station, and to adequately address the issues that we have raised. These issues include the impacts of the development on…

    • 25 Mar 2019