Minsmere, April 2019

Blackbourne U3A Birding Group Visit to RSPB Minsmere 11th April 2019

Eight of us met in the car park at RSPB Minsmere ready for a 10 am start. The weather was surprisingly chilly with cloud cover and a stiff breeze from an easterly direction.

After donning several layers of warm clothing we stopped off at the cafeteria for a hot chocolate or coffee. Leaving the visitor’s centre we observed several Sand Martins wheeling around, getting ready to nest in the sand cliff.

On to the first hide overlooking the scrape where we saw several Avocets, Godwits and hundreds of Black Headed Gulls. On leaving the hide we overheard a radio message to a volunteer and it said that there was a White Stork over the car park. Looking back in that direction we soon saw it slowly flying in big circles before disappearing. We were not expecting that!

At the next hide we saw Great Black Backed and Lesser Black Backed Gulls so it was good to be able to compare the different sizes and the blacker backs of the Great Black Backed. More Black Headed Gulls, but wait, some had flatter heads with a long sharp beak. These were Sandwich Terns. On looking even more carefully we picked out some Mediterranean Gulls which, compared to a Black Headed Gull have a blacker head which extends to the neck, a redder beak and prominent but broken white eye ring.

We reached the beach and scanned the water for birds but there were none. Along the coastal footpath was scrub consisting of mainly Gorse and we saw a Stonechat and several Linnets. One area of scrub was taped off with a few people staring intently. On asking them what they were looking for they told us it was the Dartford Warbler. It had not shown yet this year. We decided not to spend too long waiting and made for the East Hide. The highlights there were several Kittiwakes which nest on the Sizewell Nuclear Power Station just down the coast. I am sure that I saw a slight glow emanating from them!! In addition there was a busy Turnstone which covered a tremendous area of shingle in search of worms etc.

Heading back to the visitor centre we looked out over a large meadow and saw a Curlew and a Green Woodpecker, albeit a long way off. We drove the short distance to Westleton and enjoyed a good meal in the Crown Hotel in the high street.

Despite not actually seeing many Summer visitors we saw a total of 51 birds and heard 3 others.

BIRDS SEEN: Great Tit, Chaffinch, Barnacle Goose, Wood Pigeon, Sand Martin, Pied Wagtail, Blue Tit, Goldfinch, Black Headed Gull, Robin, Dunnock, Carrion Crow, Mute Swan, Marsh Harrier, Dabchick (Little Grebe), Little Egret, Moorhen, Grey Lag Goose, Avocet, Wigeon, Shelduck, Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, Coot, Great Black Backed Gull, Black Tailed Godwit, Pheasant, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Magpie, Canada Goose, Tufted Duck, Jackdaw, Shoveler, Oyster Catcher, White Stork, Lapwing, Wren, Redshank, Ruff, Sandwich Tern, Mediterranean Gull, Linnet, Stonechat, Cormorant, Kittiwake, Rook, Curlew, Starling and Green Woodpecker.

BIRDS HEARD ONLY: Blackcap, Cetti’s Warbler and Chiffchaff.