Minsmere for a midweek (Wednesday) visit. Its the time of year when birds are moving through and numbers on the reserve are beginning to build up.
Island Mere had little to show apart from a host of skydancing Marsh Harriers. I would guess three males and many females. On to the famous scape. Plenty of Avocets and Black Headed Gulls loudly asserting property rights, with Black-Tailed Godwits and Redshanks quietly feeding amongst them. Then onto south levels where there were a few Pintail, a few Dunlin, and a flock of c30 Barnacle Geese. Are they really wild? Don't know, don't care, on my year list.
One of the volunteers by the beach was getting excited because two Red Kites were circling high over the reed bed. I resisted the temptation to say I hadn't driven two hours and ninety miles just to look at birds I can see near my house. I looked the other way over the sea, and two Red Throated Divers joined the year list.
Then to the East Hide looking over the scrape. 4 Mediterranean Gulls were amongst the Black Heads, and a couple of Turnstone. Someone found an Iceland Gull. a juvenile, it practically glowed. I said, rather too loudly, we should check for Leucistic Herring Gull but this one ticked all the boxes for 1st winter Iceland going into 1st summer; white with ginger specs, white primaries, bill with a black tip merging into a grey base, all black eye, pink legs, and the head-shape less angular than Herring Gull. A smashing bird. Just to cap the day's sightings a Bittern flew past as I walked back to the centre.
The staff are, unusually for a RSPB reserve, knowledgeable, skilled, and helpful. Quite a few visitors today had come after seeing Springwatch and wanted to hear all about the programme and how its done, and the volunteers were happy to tell stories of Sticklebacks and Badgers.
Minsmere is always a full-on wildlife experience. Its not just the variety of birds, its the numbers, and increasingly its not just birds, it’s the whole wildlife package; adders (two were basking nicely today), otters, deer, and later in the year dragonflies. I hope to be back before long for some summer migrants.