Blogger - Janet Moorse, Communications Volunteer

We were on holiday in Suffolk last week and I took the family to Minsmere. Obviously the sunshine helped, but what an adventure for my nine and 11 year olds? Pheasants in the car park, sand martins beside the tea rooms, we didn’t need binoculars. The birds threw themselves at us as we headed for the beach.

After a flock of tripods and excited pointing fingers, we had seen our first nightingale. He even sang for us! Walking through raised walkways beside the reedbeds, catching glimpses of a finch sized bird, a family passing in the opposite direction said: “We’ve been told it’s a willow warbler.”

Onward to the East hide, my nine-year old stood next to a grey-haired granddad with a big tripod and telescope and boldly starts up a conversation instantly. In minutes he’s pointing out barnacle geese, pintails, shovelers, pochards with great excitement. Is it a passing ruff? No it’s a redshank. It’s a skip and a jump through the dunes to the next viewing point; boys don’t walk anywhere! There’s two avocets swimming around each other, stretching their necks and generally showing off. Beside them is an oystercatcher protesting about how noisy all the gulls are.

Back on the dunes and we see our first yellow brimstone butterfly of the season. We stop by the sluice, where engineer Dad explains the process and there on a visitor signpost is a swallow; long tail twitching, he practises his display above our heads and then off he goes along the coast.

As we walk towards the South hide, my nine year old sees a common lizard on a stretch of fencing beside the hide, he shares his find with a passing man, who points it out to his family and suddenly there’s 10 people enjoying a sunbathing lizard. Amidst all of this, a crazy lapwing is attempting to join the red arrows display team as he throws himself noisily across the sky with wild enthusiasm. 

Heading towards the woods and we can hear a bittern booming, a great noise, so distinctive, soon all 4 of us are soon practising our bittern calls. The leaves are still in bud, so we can see into the canopy where there’s lots of nest building and activity going on. More finger pointing and we’ve seen a spotted woodpecker, lesser or greater, not sure, but pretty great for us. He head butts the tree and gives us the familiar sound we’ve heard from our garden.

I’ve sat here writing with a bird book open beside me and already I know I’ve forgotten some of the birds we saw last week. But I’ll remember the enthusiasm and the sharing of knowledge by strangers we met on a sunny day in Suffolk and I’ll remember all my family saying: “We must do this again”. We’ll be camping near Cromer in the summer hols, maybe RSPB Titchwell Marsh next!