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Sep 2020+

RSPB™ Nature Reserve.


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[1] gets packed off to a field to look for a mouse. A bit cruel? Nature often is.

It's mainly salt marsh[2] but there's also reed beds, woodland and meadow. Another habitat[3] can't be thought of, it's got the bloomin' lot!

Minsmere - Marsh and Reed Beds

[1] Quite a few changes in the lineup since they were last here so good to see  he's keeping busy.
[2] That's Sizewell B in the background and, get this, it's nuclear, yoinks!
[3] Rainforest? Give it 100 years.

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 only slightly easier 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.

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[1][2].

[1] Muntjac.
[2] © the 1930s.

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 - Canopy Hide
Minsmere - Canopy Hide

It's full of dead spiders and just about borderline for these wobblies[1] but 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.

[1] Yes, that'll be the old vertigo.

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 poisonous 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[1].

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, probably.

[1] Yes, zoomed in from quarter of a mile away. Is that just a little bit too self-satisfied?

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