Posts Tagged ‘Minsmere RSPB’

A bright sunny morning saw myself and Keith on our way to the Minsmere nature reserve with Gravesend RSPB group.

On arrival, we decided that rather than try and get around the reserve and all its different habitats we would focus our attention on seeing and photographing certain key species.

The first of these was a Marsh Warbler. Although common on the European continent, they are rarely seen in this country and so this one which had appeared at Minsmere that morning was the top target. It was a very obliging bird and although it spent some time playing hide and seek behind bushes, whilst singing loudly to let us know it was there, we eventually got great views.

Marsh Warbler

Our next target was Eurasian Bittern, which breeds at Minsmere. We have been unlucky in our attempts to catch up with this species this year and so it was fantastic to get great views of one crossing a pool right in front of the hide.

Eurasian Bittern

Eurasian Bittern. Photo by Keith

 

 

 

 

 

Our next stop was Island Mere hide and the target bird was a Savi’s Warbler, another rare continental visitor and which had been heard singing in the area for the previous few days. Whilst here we had good views of Bearded Reedling, Marsh Harrier and of 2 more Bitterns. Eventually, after about an hour, some people, including Keith, heard it singing very briefly – unfortunately, I was not one of them. We waited another 30 minutes but it remained silent and we decided to move on.

Eurasian Bittern coming into land. Photo by Keith

We made our way down to the wader scrape and added a number of species including ducks, geese and wading birds, oh and another 2 Bitterns!

Along the paths and amongst the pools we found many Butterflies and Dragonflies.

4 spotted Chaser

Red-eyed damselfly

Cinnabar Moth

Comma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was soon time to return to our coach. An excellent day with a wonderful variety of wildlife and so many sightings of Bittern, but the Marsh Warbler was undoubtedly the bird of the day.

Red-legged Partridge [sp] (Alectoris rufa)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Bittern [sp] (Botaurus stellaris)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Water Rail [sp] (Rallus aquaticus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Bearded Reedling [sp] (Panurus biarmicus)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Marsh Warbler (Acrocephalus palustris)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Butterflies

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small Copper [sp] (Lycaena phlaeas)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Small Tortoiseshell [sp] (Aglais urticae)
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)
Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)

Dragonflies

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans)
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)
Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma najas)
Norfolk Hawker (Anaciaeschan isosceles)
Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator)
Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)
Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum)

As we left the converted farm where we were staying we flushed 2 Grey Partridge from the road-side.

DSCN6283a

038059-IMG_9242 Grey Partridge (Perdix perdix)
Grey Partridge
Photo by Tony Morris (https://www.flickr.com/photos/tonymorris/)

Our first birdwatching stop was in Aldeburgh, famed home of the composer Benjamin Britten. Turning north up the coast road we stopped at the marshes just outside Aldeburgh and found a good selection of Duck plus at least 6 Little Egrets.

DSCN6284a

Little Egret

Little Egret

Arriving at Minsmere around lunchtime we headed off through the woodland area. Marsh Tit was seen on the feeders. This locally rare member of the tit family is very common here and is certainly one of the birds of the reserve. Green Woodpecker was heard and a Greater Spotted Woodpecker seen flying away through the trees. Arriving at the extensive reed-beds we spend sometime waiting for a Bittern to make its presence known but with no luck.

DSCN6307a

We move onto the Freshwater mere and are greeted by the sight of Marsh Harriers over the reeds. Three geese are seen on the far-side of the Mere and closer examination reveals them to be Tundra Bean Geese, a rare winter visitor which is only usually found in the UK in the Yare valley on the Suffolk / Norfolk border and in Scotland near Falkirk, so this is a good sighting away from those areas.

Tundra Bean Goose · Nestucca Bay NWR, Oregon
Tundra Bean Goose
Photo by Skip Russell (https://www.flickr.com/photos/skipr/)

Eurasian Teal

Eurasian Teal

Mute Swan

Mute Swan

Our final stop is overlooking some pools in the reed-bed and some mud-flats. On the former there are two sleeping swans. Unfortunately they remain asleep covering all the necessary indicators of which species they are. Then they briefly raise their heads and it is clear from their yellow beak markings that these are two Whooper Swans, winter visitors who will soon be heading north to their breeding grounds. Before I can get a photo they resume their sleeping pose! On the mud-flats are Oystercatchers and Avocets.

Pied Avocet

Pied Avocet

Grey Partridge [sp] (Perdix perdix)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Tundra Bean Goose [sp] (Anser serrirostris)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Marsh Tit [sp] (Poecile palustris)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Goldcrest [sp] (Regulus regulus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

In the afternoon we visit the RSPB reserve at Minsmere. This is one of the premier birdwatching sites in the UK most notably because of its position on the east coast and because of the way it manages to combine a number of different habitats (heathland; freshwater lake; reedbed; marsh; woodland; coast) in one area. As we are in the area for a few days we decide to break it into two sections and do one today and one tomorrow. Today we concentrate on the heath, marsh and the coast. There has been some maintenance work in progress over the winter to install a new protective fence for the nesting birds on the mud-flats and this has probably reduced the numbers of wading birds which have wintered here this year, so it is quieter than I would have expected.

During the lunch-time sun a peacock butterfly makes an appearance, my first butterfly of the year

Peacock Butterfly

Peacock Butterfly

From the dunes looking over the marsh I can just make out a distant Spoonbill. Once rare these birds are now being seen with increasing frequency in Southern England.

SPOONBILL
Spoonbill
Photo by Fabio Gismundi (https://www.flickr.com/photos/fabiogis50/)

On the Mud-flats are several Avocets along with some Oystercatchers.

Marsh and Mud-flats

Marsh and Mud-flats

Avocets and Shelduck

Avocets and Shelduck

Oystercatcher

Oystercatcher

There are also a number of Little Egrets, another bird which was rare 10 years ago but is now nesting in many places in southern England.

Little Egret

Little Egret

On the heath the song-birds are beginning to sing with the resident Dunnocks and Robins to the fore. It will not be many weeks now before the summer visitors have arrived to swell the chorus.

Heathland at Minsmere

Heathland at Minsmere

Robin

Robin

On the coast there is little to see apart from some Herring Gulls and two distant Red-Throated Divers flying out to sea as they make their way north to their breeding grounds

Coastal sand Dunes at Minsmere

Coastal sand Dunes at Minsmere

Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata)
Red-Throated Diver
Photo by Noel Reynolds (https://www.flickr.com/photos/29237715@N05/)

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata)
Eurasian Spoonbill [sp] (Platalea leucorodia)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Marsh Tit [sp] (Poecile palustris)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

A bright morning and off to Minsmere with the Central London RSPB group. Minsmere never seems to disappoint, whatever the weather, whatever the season. Its unique collection of different habitats in a single area (Sea, tidal marsh, freshwater marsh, woodland, heathland, reed-bed) mean there is always something to see.

Island Mere

Island Mere

My top priority today was to see if I could find and photograph Black Darter, a dragonfly species becoming increasing scarce in the South and East of England.

Black_Darter_-_Sympetrum_danae_-_geograph.org.uk_-_920862
Black Darter (Male)
Photo by Dave Green [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I have seen it at Minsmere some years ago and wanted to see if I could find it again. So I departed off to the heathland stopping briefly at Island Mere where I was fortunate to see both Marsh Harrier and Bittern, both specialities of the reserve.

Looking from Winn Hill over Island Mere

Looking from Winn Hill over Island Mere

Alas my search was in vain. The fact that the clouds had come over and the wind got up didn’t help, but no Black Darter to be found. I did manage to catch up with one good butterfly species as I noticed a large butterfly which was lost to sight as soon as it landed. Closer inspection revealed it to be a Grayling, a master of disguise whose camouflaged underwing enables it to ‘disappear’ as soon as it lands. It also rests at an angle to reduce the shadow it casts on the ground. It is also a declining species and is estimated to have declined by over 50% in the last 30 years.

Grayling

Grayling

Looking at the weather it seemed that it was not likely to be very productive for either dragonflies or Butterflies so I decide to head off for the scrape to see what wading birds were around. The east scrape proved the most productive with a number of waders including some which caused some ID queries. Ringed Plovers were present but were they Little Ringed or Common Ringed? Both had been reported and at the distance viewed it was impossible to see the yellow eye ring of the Little. I was fortunate to get some views of birds in flight and was able to confirm that both species were present (The Common has a wing bar and the Little doesn’t). Equally Common and Spotted Redshank were also both present. In breeding plumage these two species are very distinct but now as we go into winter plumage it is more difficult. One individual looked quite dark in its plumage and most people agreed that it was almost certainly Spotted Redshank. A small part of Yellow Wagtails was also a welcome sighting. Regrettably all these birds were too far for photographs.

Looking over North Scrape towards Sizewell Power station

Looking over North Scrape towards Sizewell Power station

Walking back to the reserve centre, a feeding Goldfinch did at least provide the opportunity for some decent photos and then there were the Beewolf. A reserve volunteer was showing visitors these interesting digger-wasps which parasitise bees (hence the name).

DSCN4509a

Beewolf

Beewolf

For me watching these wasps dig their holes and hearing about their life-cycle was one of the highlights of the day along with that sighting of Grayling. As I said Minsmere never seems to disappoint.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Eurasian Bittern [sp] (Botaurus stellaris)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Little Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius dubius)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Marsh Tit [sp] (Poecile palustris)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Western Yellow Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla flava)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Grayling [sp] (Hipparchia semele)
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)