Our large group descended upon this fantastic reserve on an overcast day that was supposed to be having thunder and lightning. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, and we set out to see some of the species that Minsmere has to offer.
The sand martins were busy gathering food to take back to their nests as we walked towards the North Hide. On the way, a blackcap was seen and heard, followed by chiffchaff and chaffinch. From the hide, lapwings and oystercatchers with their young broods were spotted on the islands. Barnacle and canada geese mixed in the long grass as common terns flew overhead. Mediterranean gulls, black tailed godwit, shelduck, little egrets, shoveler, gadwall, avocet, mute swans and mallards were among other birds seen. The North Wall provided good views and sounds of goldfinch, reed bunting, reed warbler, marsh harrier and hobby.
Common scoter, whitethroat, sandwich tern and black-headed gulls were seen from the sea wall. Then, to our delight, a male cuckoo was heard close by and then spotted on a short flight from one treetop to another, accompanied by its mate.
Some of our group decided to walk up to Dunwich Heath and were rewarded with sightings of an arctic tern and a Dartford warbler!
A ringed plover flew overhead as we made our way towards the sluice and after scanning the shore line some of the group spotted a bird on the edge of the water. After much debate it was identified as a sanderling in summer plumage. Turnstones were also spotted looking for food as more terns flew by. Sedge warblers gave us their jazzy songs, a linnet and a stonechat were seen perched on a gorse bush. Swallows continually dived around us disappearing into the sluice. On towards the woodland and Malcolm found a very hairy caterpillar, much to the delight of a young family and their small children.
The Bittern Hide gave us further views of the bittern, walking and flying, whilst marsh harriers quartered above, looking for their prey. The woodland section yielded wren, blue tit, great tit, jackdaw, rook and robin, whilst the Island Mere hide gave us great crested and little grebe and a heron.
An assortment of butterflies included holly blue, common blue, cinnabar, small heath, painted lady and brimstone. A four-spotted chaser, black-tailed skimmer and various other dragonflies were also seen. A thick thighed flower beetle was found on cats-ear.
Unfortunately, no sightings of the stone curlew to report, however, we all enjoyed our day out, especially with over 70 species noted.
Many thanks to everyone on the trip, Hazel for organising and Steve and Sally for the photos.