Thursday 21 April 2016

April 19th Another Great Day at Minsmere RSPB reserve

Tuesday 19th April Light to fresh NE Very sunny all day. Cool 8C with cold wind.

Early morning with nightingales, three of them singing in turns and occasionally coming out into obscured views. I am sitting on a grassy knoll amongst gorse bushes listening. Cetti's, willow warblers, chiff chaff and blackcap all add voice to the chorus.
With bird number 215 on the list I head back towards Minsmere and stop to walk a public footpath to search for whitethroat. The area looks perfect for them with thick bramble patches and sporadic bits of hawthorn hedge. I chat with a local woman out for a walk in the bright sunshine. A whitethroat comes out onto the topmost twig of a hawthorn and scratches it's song. Bird number 216.
To the Island Mere hide just in time to see a bittern fly over the reeds to land nearby in the dense reedbed. Four bearded tits, including two males do the same. There is the briefest glimpse of an otter way over the back of the mere amongst the reedbed edge.
Once more to the scrape with my mobile staying as silent as the grave. Every minute I am hoping for news of some rare bird having been found within cycling distance but nothing. The wind and weather conditions are all wrong. Cold northerlies and full sunshine is either stopping migrant birds from moving in large numbers or some are flying straight over with no reason for stopping.
I spend some time on the internet in the cafe before heading once more for the scrape.
Apparently the scrape was the idea of the first resident warden at Minsmere, the famous Bert Axell. The area had been flooded during World war 2 to prevent any possibility of German tanks finding an area to invade. The wetlands created attracted avocet which bred for the first time on over one hundred years. These attracted visitors and ber came up with the scrape idea for the avocets in the early 1960s, an idea which has been copied around the world. When the RSPB were given the opportunity to buy the area they had to quickly raise £240,000 and thankfully they managed to do just that.
At the scrape, two common terns are flying around as three more rest on a muddy island. The bar-tailed godwit is still here as are a number of Mediterranean gulls.
Afterwards I head around for the sea and spend an hour seawatching seeing three harbour porpoise and a single red-throated diver heading north low over the sea.

A male stonechat is atop some gorse near the north walk looking superb in the sun. There is no sign of the stone curlews in the field but seven red deer are relaxing there.
Once more through the woods I head for an evening at the Island Mere hide, stopping on the way to watch a superb male redstart fresh in, and watch as otters and bitterns give great views. Outside, in the cold wind, and RSPB staff member is logging booming bitterns, mapping the booms so that she can collate results with other colleagues later and see how many booming males the reserve has.

The Green Year list now stands at 216, still 30 birds ahead of this time last year.

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