Trip reports

Minsmere - coach trip on 2nd Jun 2018

Minsmere - coach trip on 2nd Jun 2018
Mike Hughes

Saturday, 2 June 2018

The rain when we arrived soon changed to a warm and sunny day with the odd shower so a very pleasant day out with many, special bird sightings. The highlight for me was the fantastic views of Bitterns, Marsh Harriers and Hobbies flying back and forth at eye level, coming close to the Bittern Hide.

Many thanks to Mike Hughes of Havering LG for his following, detailed write up of the trip, and for his photo of a Bittern.

"All on board and off we go, first stop a short break at the Ipswich services for the 'call of nature' and to sell the tickets for the coach raffle.

Next stop Minsmere reserve, what is the weather to be today, things are looking a bit grey and the forecast for the area was mist and possible showers. We arrived safely at the reserve in good time and after a brief introduction from RSPB staff we all divided into our groups and began our venture.

First sightings were of the sand martins at their nest site, back and forth collecting food for the young. Something like a hundred birds spiralling in the sky and over the reed-beds catching flying insects for their brood.

Chiffchaff and blackcaps calling on the way to the north hide where some of our members who were coming out of the hide commented that a bittern had been seen briefly close to the hide. Into position and eyes peeled, especially for the bittern and without too much delay there it was, right in front of us looking a bit cautious as they do, an excellent sight it seemed to be posing for the cameras, which could be heard firing off - what a good start.

A slight shower of rain as we continued our walk and at the open fields we tried to find a sighting of a stone curlew which had been seen earlier, but with no luck. We continued across the vast open reed-beds along the north wall towards the dunes. Stationed on top of a distant bush was a marsh harrier and passing visitors enjoyed views through our scopes as they passed by. Several sedge and reed warblers were seen along this stretch with swifts and martins flying low over the reeds.

We were now at the dunes and with a quick look out to sea, a huge raft of common scoter at some distance with a veil of mist towards the horizon, we did not see any other birds out on the sea and continued to the north hide.

With a lot of visitors in the hide we managed to get a seat and began viewing the birds on the scrapes. Shelduck, shoveler, teal, gadwall, lapwing, knot, oystercatcher, avocet, ring plover, black-tailed godwits and kittiwakes. After a bit of lunch we continued our walk and visited the hides around the scrapes where we spotted curlew, whimbrel, redshank, water rail, med gull, little gull, sandwich and common tern and many more.

Now off towards the island mere hide, first stop was the bittern hide, again full of visitors eagerly viewing the reed-beds for any sign of bittern, water rail, etc. A couple of hobby's were busily feeding on the wing and after a brief stop we continued through the woodland where we spotted a tree creeper, long-tailed tits, great and blue tits, goldcrest and willow warbler. Nearing the island mere hide and alongside the pathway were southern marsh orchids, which were lovely to see, also some of our members had reported seeing a common eel in the water at the side of the entrance boardwalk.

Settled in the hide, views of two buzzards soaring above the distant trees. A couple of marsh harriers scouring the reedbeds for food, no doubt for their young. Suddenly all eyes were averted to a bittern flying quickly across our view. Reed buntings calling from the top of the reeds and bearded tits, pinging and speeding across the reedbeds.

Our time at Minsmere was shortly coming to an end so we made our way back to the centre, where we said our goodbyes and thanks to the staff. With us all back on the coach, we drew the raffle prizes and then began our homeward journey.

With 92 species recorded and the weather has been kind to us, we have had a great days birding - another successful coach outing."