Minsmere: Bird Watching, Notes and Photos
Every now and again when we visit Aldeburgh we take a trip or two to Minsmere which is about fifteen minutes by car.
Our normal routine is to amble off in one direction then back to the shop for a coffee and a snack, repeated in different directions throughout the day.
The following is not an exhaustive list of our exploits just some ramblings and photos.
Minsmere 2nd – 3rd June 2013
Highlights of this trip included a couple of firsts: Kittiwakes (who should be on a sea cliff nesting hundreds of miles from here at this time of year) and a pair of immature Little Gulls.
Others species of note include what Minsmere is famous for: Marsh Harriers, Bitterns, Bearded Reedlings and Avocets.
Got a few glimpses of Cetis Warblers (I swear just about every other bush on the South Path must have had one calling in it, bugger to see though), saw the Stone Curlews with a chick and a pair of Greenshank.
Sitting outside the West Hide having a fag an Otter sauntered across the path about ten feet from me and disappeared into the channel, so I went into the hide and called a couple over to show them where it went and lo and behold there was a Water Vole cruising the channel (not sure of its chances of survival although the Otter hadn’t reappeared by the time I left)
Caught a glimpse of a large white egret disappearing into the reeds, however can’t call it as the Great White Egret so just for a change instead of an LBJ (Little Brown Job) I have classified it as a LWJ (Large White Job), one day I swear I will catch up with it……….
Minsmere 13th October - 14th October 2012
Quick trip down for mum's birthday.
Lovely warm sunny autumn day, finally managed to bag a Firecrest (three in fact) which was long overdue. Good views of a distant Ring Ouzel, lots of Goldcrests and an Adder!
Although the Adder appeared to be well fed and in good condition there were several Greenbottles and Bluebottles laying eggs on it, unfortunately the photos were none too clever, but I couldn't back away far enough from it with my new 500mm lens (I'm having a late-life crisis!) to do it justice.
Watched a pair of Magpies eviscerate the remains of a Grass Snake (don't know if they killed it as it was dead by the time we came across the melee!).
We took advantage of the North Bushes Trail being opened and were surprised by the numbers of Blackcap that were about.
Minsmere 9th August - 13th August 2012
Slightly longer trip down to spend some time with mum, so again just me out for a couple of hours each day.
Highlights included: Sedge Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Whitethroat, Spoonbill, Willow Warbler, Linnet, Glossy Ibis, Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Bittern and a Hobby.
Also caught up with the escaped Cape Shelduck, but could I find the Ferruginous Duck?
No and I must have eyeballed (scoped really) every duck on Island Mere about twenty times each to no avail
Minsmere 20th July - 21st July 2012
Short trip down to spend some time with mum, so just me out for a couple of hours each day,
also finally treated myself to a Spotting Scope which came in really handy for identifying waders.
There is a downside though in trying to carry a scope and camera gear with all the other paraphenalia - wish I was young and fit again!
Highlights: Knot, Avocet, Common Sandpiper, Ruff, Spotted Redshank, Bittern, Sandwich Tern, Marsh Harrier and a Peregrine Falcon
Minsmere 11th May 2012
Highlights: Water Vole, Nightingale, Sanderling, Stone Curlew and Black Redstart (albeit the last two at extreme range!)
I have been asked what I mean by "the Usual Suspects" and this does vary from season to season, but here are some of the other birds we saw on this trip:
Avocet, Bar Tailed Godwit, Bearded Tit, Bittern, Black Headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Blackback Gull, Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Barnacle Goose, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Coot, Crow, Dunlin, Goldfinch, Great Crested Grebe, Green Woodpecker, Greenfinch, Hobby, House Martin, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Jay, Lapwing, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Magpie, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Oyster Catcher, Pheasant, Gadwall, Mallard, Pintail Duck, Shelduck, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Robin, Rook, Sand Martin, Swallow, Swift, Treecreeper, Water Rail, Wheatear, Whimbrel, Whitethroat and Wood Pigeon.
If unlike us you are young, fit, mobile and happy to put a full day in the field spotting over one hundred species in a day is quite do-able and indeed has been done!
It's horses for courses and how you want to pursue this as a day out....
Minsmere 3rd December 2011
Bit cloudy with odd sunny periods, got some great views of both Green and Greater Spotted Woodpeckers,
plus a Goldcrest and Treecreeper being less secretive than normal (mind you this was probably down to a lack of leaf cover)
and for the second December running I caught up with a flock of Waxwings some of which came so close I couldn't get the camera to focus on them...
Minsmere 30th September 2011
Lovely September day, lots to see and I swear one day the Red Deer will present themselves for petting as they are almost oblivious to visitors.
Highlights included some great views of predatory birds including Marsh Harriers and Barn Owls (the latter a pair at Eastbridge)
plus Red Breasted Geese, Bar Tailed Godwit, Greenshank and some great views of Bearded Reedlings.
Minsmere 24th June 2011
Unfortunately my camera decided to die while I was shooting one of the Marsh Harriers, so only a couple of photos I'm afraid and one of them is decidedly dodgy at that!
Good day out though, spotted Fiona the escaped Greater Flamingo plus a small group of Mediterranean Gulls and then a bizarre incident up at the Island Hyde.
There I was scanning the lake when someone said, "O Look a Common Seal".
Now I'm not always on the ball, but this time the grey cells went into overdrive thinking this is a freshwater lake and there is no easy access for a seal, this must be an Otter and it was.
Normally shy and secretive this Otter started off by teasing a rather bemused Heron and then put on a great show for about half an hour, rolling, messing about and just seemingly having fun right in front of us, what a bugger about the camera!
Minsmere 24th - 25th March 2011
I have always said that some of the easiest bird watching you can do is by the shop and café and having had several blank trips over the winter to various places
hunting for Bramblings imagine our surprise, sitting having a quiet cup of coffee when one of the elusive little buggers saunters down the bank right in front of us!
We had some great views of a Bittern which wandered across in front of the Island Hide, ate a stickleback and then started booming in the open.
All in all a great couple of days with over 60 species spotted.
Minsmere 30th - 31st October 2010
Some of the easiest bird watching you can do is by the shop and café. There were large numbers of Chaffinches and Tits on the feeders and ground along with the odd Greenfinch, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Pheasant and even a couple of Magpies (the Magpies were actually on the feeders which I have never seen before). In amongst the many Great Tits and Blue Tits there were a couple of Coal Tits and very unusually a Marsh Tit which came down and grabbed a couple of sunflower hearts!
In the Woodland we saw several Bullfinches and Goldcrests and on the way down to the East Hyde we saw Bearded Reedlings and a brief glimpse of a Cetti’s Warbler.
Even luckier down on the dunes behind the sluices we also saw some Snow Buntings, Meadow Pipits and a male Lapland Bunting.
On both days we were lucky enough to see a Ring Tailed Hen Harrier (female Hen Harrier) over the Marshes, Marsh Harriers and on the Sunday a Sparrow Hawk that got knocked off one of the posts by a Crow.
Off shore was a juvenile male King Eider Duck that will be absolutely spectacular once in full adult plumage.
There was also a group of Bewicks Swans on the scrape and someone identified a Caspian Gull, although all the time we were there it sat with its head down which was a bit of a bugger and still no sign of the Great White Egret.
Minsmere 29th – 31st May 2010
Not the best weather, but nevertheless a good trip with many ‘classic’ views of Avocets all over the scrape complete with young chicks. Finally bagged Dartford Warblers and Stonechats (popped up to Dunwich Heath at dawn for these).
I love watching the Marsh Harriers quartering the reed beds and some of the other birds we saw included, Bittern, Oystercatcher with young, Greylag Geese, Bearded Reedlings, Whitethroat, Little Plover, Sand Martin, Swift, Swallow, Cuckoo….
No sign of the Great White Egret.
Minsmere 3rd – 4th September 2009
Loads of the usual suspects including: Greylag Geese, Shoveler, Green Plover, Snipe, Widgeon, Marsh Harrier, Long Tailed Tits and Bearded Reedlings.
Saw my first pair of Green Sandpipers and Julie bagged her first Water Rail which took ages of follow the big green reed stalk, right at the smudge of brown, left at the brown round thingy, up five inches and you can see the red beak!
As per usual once spotted the ruddy thing gave up hiding and came out and put on a display for about ten minutes.
No sign of the Great White Egret, although we did see several Red Deer, a Grass Snake and loads of butterflies feeding on the blackberries.