Ever since I saw RSPB Minsmere on Springwatch I couldn’t wait to go so my partner took me for my birthday.
We stayed in Lowestoft the night before and drove to get there shortly after the 9am opening time, there is a long wooded drive and we were excited when rabbits ran in front of us.
Little did we know that the reserve is teeming with rabbits and some of the fields are gigantic rabbit burrows!
Our first stop in the reserve was the sand martin bank, a specialised habitat to support this migratory species.
This was the first example of the RSPB’s exemplary habitat management that meant it was chosen as the location for BBC Springwatch by the Natural History Unit.
We then followed the route to the coast as we had been instructed the follow the morning light. The scrape hides are accessed from the beach and I was amazed at the amount of birds that could be seen!
We had hired binoculars to make sure that we could see the birds on the scrape. As some birds were out of breeding plumage it was difficult to identify them, there were also juvenile birds with differing plumage to add to the mix!
Luckily there was an RSPB guide in the hide who pointed out some of the birds for us and identify their differences.
Along the scrape, we saw the famous avocet (logo of the RSPB), sandpiper, black-tailed godwits, redshank, shoveler, barnacle geese, little egret, shelduck, common tern and sandwich tern. There were other birds but this list is all that were confirmed!
After the scrape we saw an eel sluice, an innovative idea to help eels migrate and provide a valuable food source for bitterns and the like!
We also saw some of the highland cattle that live on the reserve as we moved through reedbeds and marshland.
After two hours of walking the first trail we took a pitstop at the cafe and I had a veggie sausage sandwich. I know the Springwatch crew loved the cake there!
The cafe sells ethically and locally sourced produce and avoids ingredients like palm oil which contribute to environmental destruction.
Refreshed, we set out to see the bittern in the wetland walk and we were bittern-ly disappointed. We did however get good views of a female marsh harrier and great created grebes with their chick.
The otters eluded us by a matter of minutes, heading for shallow waters before we arrived.
I was excited to see Spineless Si’s haunt outside one of the hides! With the clear water, you could actually see stickleback fry below the bridge – fantastic! Spineless is probably off to Hollywood now to compete with Nemo.
We then went on the woodland walk and up to the treetop hide. There are red deer in the wood but we didn’t them or any birds whilst in the hide. It’s very difficult to spot animals but is a nice walk nonetheless.
We went to the mirador and saw the Springwatch set! I imagine they’ll be back there shortly.
The view from the Springwatch studio…
We trekked across a field avoiding the hundreds of rabbit holes and then we were back at the car.
The car park bird feeders were full of garden birds and a rabbit was eating any floor spillage underneath.
The buddleia bushes were full of butterflies also. Even the car park is a wildlife event!
Basically, I wish I lived at Minsmere, so many habitats in one place! I had to hold back from slipping my CV under the Springwatch studio door but many one day!
Did I wish I saw more animals and was better at this birdwatching malarkey?
A little bit, there is a lot to learn but I’m not bittern.
RSPB Minsmere Reserve is in Suffolk and they record wildlife sightings daily.