Minsmere RSPB Reserve, October 2014

The Visit of Springwatch to this flagship RSPB reserve forced the postponement of our planned trip here in June. The RSPB advised that the hides would be full and there were likely to be queues. Nine of the group arrived four months later to a busy reserve. A star bird had put in an appearance and warranted a mention in the pages of the EADT on Saturday 11th. It was a little crake, visible occasionally from Bittern Hide. We tried twice to get into this hide but it was crammed full of twitchers who had travelled from near and far just to see it.

The Island Mere Hide was less busy and produced a trio of beauties. A great white egret put on a flying display before settling on the edge of the reedbed. A bittern flew into a small pool close to the hide which enabled our photographers to snap away, a rare chance with this elusive, skulking bird. A marsh harrier attacked a mallard duck on the water in an attempt to drown it, behaviour seen previously by volunteer wardens but usually involving coot or moorhen.

A strong wind kept the bearded reedlings pinned into the reeds and out of sight but there were lots of other species visible from the South and East Hides, looking out over The Scrape. Best birds here were avocet, black-tailed godwit, and spotted redshank. The latter birds were not easy to identify as, like many birds, their typical summer plumage had morphed into a lighter, paler version. There was the usual array of duck species and two juvenile brent geese, minus the usual white neck bar.

A few of the group briefly heard the short, staccato call of a cettiā€™s warbler, unmistakable once the ears are tuned in.

Come lunchtime, always an enjoyable social occasion, we retired to the Eels Foots pub at Eastbridge for a drink and meal, much needed sustenance for the afternoon return walk on the reserve.

We arrived home around 6pm after a good days birding in a lovely part of Suffolk. We totalled a count of 32 species.

As for that little crake, the species had first been spotted at this reserve in 1973 by the acclaimed wildlife photographer Eric Hosking. That bird was the first to be seen in Suffolk since 1830. We left the recent momentous arrival to the twitchers, content with our quite normal but grand day out at Minsmere.