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Sep 2022+

"One of the very first RSPB reserves, home to a dazzling array of rare wildlife including booming Bitterns, elusive Otters and rutting Red Deer", they say.


It's one of the very first RSPB reserves, home to a dazzling array of rare wildlife including booming Bitterns, elusive Otters and rutting Red Deer, alright, but more on that in a minute.

Minsmere is the RSPB™'s flagship reserve and BBC's Springwatch™ has sprung up here a few times. Punky Packham and her off the Hit Man preside while the posh one gets packed off to a field to look for a mouse.

A bit cruel? Nature often is but saying that, there have been a few changes in the lineup since they were last here so good to see Martin Hughes Games is keeping busy.

It's mainly salt marsh but there's also reed beds, woodland and meadow. Another habitat can't be thought of, it's got the bloomin' lot!

Minsmere - Marsh and Reed Beds

As for another habitat - rainforest? - give or take 100 years. That's Sizewell B in the background, by the way, and, get this, it's nuclear, yoinks!

If you're not a member, you'll have to pay for the parking or get yourself corralled into signing up. There's a recommended minimum membership so, double it and round down a bit.

The suggestion was for a joint membership so the look of gratitude on his little face, you'd think the place was being funded for the next decade! He even added on an extra month and there's possibly a warbler winging its way round here now named after SlyBob.

Minsmere - Beach

Another habitat has just been thought of... shingle and it's even got some of that. That means another habit really can't be thought of.

Not far from the caff on the path to the sea past where the sand martins live, at least a dozen hardcore birders.

Minsmere - Near the Caff

Now, we're quite casual about all of this business but these chaps had been here since 5 AM. You might well ask why, so why not ask why?

There's only a wryneck in town, you know, the small migrating member of the woodpecker family of which there's estimated to be a single breeding pair in the UK? How easy a simple 'There it is look!' and then run off giggling?

Minsmere - Amanita muscaria

That's simply not the done thing round here so have a magic-looking mushroom.

Some godwits here, bar-tailed, of course, probably, the black-tailed slightly harder to spot, as you know.

Minsmere - Limosa lapponica?

On the second visit to Minsmere, a red-necked phalarope, not shown, had set up home not far from here. The hardcorers were out again, only this time in waders, needy and resting.

The elusive wader? reedy and nesting.

It's not all about the birds here, this accidentally soft-focused Konik pony is one of an imported herd.

Minsmere - Konik pony
Minsmere - Konik ponies

If you're lucky, they'll let you watch as they're moved between fields, first moving here from Poland to graze the wetland and to keep the reed beds in 'Czech'.

They share the job with some highland cattle, not shown, a wonderful example of Eastern Europe meets Wester Ross.

Konik, by the way, Polish for 'small horse' so here's another River Avon\Mount Fuji situation?

No, it's not a kangaroo just a suddenly startled red deer, female.

Minsmere - Cervus elaphus

There are three species here, the red one, the roe one and the third one? Man, what's its name again? Aargh, can't remember... no idea!

That one is © the 1930s and it's Muntjac, by the way.

It's often a lottery and, migrating ponies excepted, there's not a lot happening wildlife-wise particularly by way of the whistling variety.

Sure, there's the odd avocet and is that a ringed-plover? Probably, but for these you'll have to sit in a hide and wait with the binocs clocked on this type of terrain for at least 10 minutes.

Minsmere - Recurvirostra avosetta
Minsmere - Charadrius hiaticula
Minsmere - East Scrape

That's simply not an option today, they're all locked up, you see, and it's all the fault of you-know-what.

That makes for more time than usual outside and an area of monumental significance that many may overlook. The monument is a memorial, a shrine to Springwatch™ whose spiritual home was here at Minsmere complete with a purpose-built, wooden set.

Minsmere - Springwatch Set

Badger sets were a regular feature but that was before they found somewhere better and Springwatch™ sprang off up to Scotland.

The relocation was bad news for Spineless Si the stickleback whose TV career was curtailed having captivated regular viewers in 2015.

Furiously fanning the spry and fending off hungry members of his fellow species, he lived in a channel that feeds the Island Mere but there's no sign of him today.

Minsmere - Island Mere

That's more down to life expectancy, probably, than the bone-dry conditions making this bit of Minsmere as dry as a desert today. Hang on! Desert! That must be the last type of habitat, surely?

There's another wooden feature in the, erm, woods where the Tree Canopy Hide sits atop a tower affording eye-level views of the treetops.

Minsmere - Tree Canopy Hide
Minsmere - Tree Canopy Hide

It's full of dead spiders and just about borderline for these wobblies and yes, that'll be the old vertigo. There's no system for knowing if the maximum number of 20 twitchers will be exceeded before heading on up not unless, that is, there's a you-know-what on when that really isn't an issue.

Out of the corner of the eye, there in a break in the grass, a suspended adder sunning itself, superb! Although it's not exactly clear what end's the head.

Minsmere - Vipera berus

But, but they're snakes UURGH! And, and they're venemous AARGH? Indeed, so don't poke it with a stick or stamp on it or let the kids too near. Just grin and enjoy it. Take a snap with your camera and set the mode to 'Now you don't see that every day'.

A couple approached from behind and would otherwise have missed this...

'There's an adder there.', nodding in the direction.
'I'm sorry?' she said, obviously not used to northern types.
'An adder?... OH WOW!!!' she said on suddenly seeing it.
'THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!' Alright luv, it's just a snake.

It's nice to think there was a little bit of joy spreading that day, which they, in turn, continued, confirmed by this admittedly blurry evidence.

Minsmere - Adder Admirers

There's a current campaign to get this spot renamed 'Adder Corner'. Recalling the membership fee, is 'SlyBob Corner' pushing it? Remember, there's already a warbler winging its way round, probably.

Yes, that snap was zoomed in from about a quarter of a mile away, is that just a little bit too self-satisfied?

These memoirs have been compiled over a number of years, including a you-know-what, on what has become something of an annual pilgrimage. There's no evidence from the last visit of the never-seen-before bearded tit or the once-seen-by-Sly-but-not-by-Bob bittern but the Island Mere hide did deliver, definitely.

It's not known how long this will continue, however, for changes are afoot and no, that rainforest hasn't sprouted, yet. Remember Sizewell B? Well, it will be replaced with, well, Sizewell C and not only is it nuclear, yoinks, it's even closer to Minsmere than B.

Despite the visible protest signs in the surrounding town and villages, planning permission has been granted although estimated costs are the equivalent of arranging to meet someone at midday and then turning up at midnight.

35,000 jobs have been promised but, having seen the Simpsons™, the day-to-day running doesn't look to be too complicated following the 10+ years period of construction.

The wildlife will be scared away, they say, and the wetlands will dry up, they also say, making Minsmere no longer an attraction for migrants looking for somewhere warmer in winter. Oh well, if that's the case then it looks like SlyBob will soon be following Packham and his posse up to Nethy Bridge.

Saying that, that's not all the fault of Sizewell C. It'll soon be 50°C in summer down here and there's soon to be a rainforest, remember? Either that or it will all be underwater, right Greta?

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