It's that time of the year when the winter specialities are departing and nothing new has come in, so it gets a bit desperate. A couple of year ticks and more were up in Suffolk, so Friday saw me and David at Minsmere, Mike being unavailable.
David's foot injury has been taking a time to heal, so I promised I wouldn't thrash round the reserve, but ... we did the adder spot on the sand martin bank. Nothing. North Hide. Nothing. Adders again. Nothing. Island Mere. Nothing. Obviously there wasn't literally nothing, there was a year tick in the form of a Coal Tit, I missed a Bittern at Island Mere, and there were a lot of Marsh Harriers. We finally got the Adders around mid-day on the Sand Martin bank, two males slowly waking up before they slithered off.
If you go, walk round the north side of the dragonfly pool, and in the middle of the bank right by you is a grey pipe. They were about a metre above that, slightly right. Fantastic.
Then down the marsh side of the scrapes. It was nice in the sunshine, with plenty of Wigeon, Shoveler, Avocets, and handfuls of Black-Tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Curlew, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, and Pintail. So very nice. But no Smew which was our target. I popped down to the Sluice to see if the Lesser Yellowlegs was around, and it was! Fantastic views, a grey washed out Wood Sandpiper-type bird. And those legs, so bright yellow. I went back to collect David who was resting his injured foot in a hide, and dragged him round just in time to see it flying off. Sorry David.
From there it was back along the seaward side. Stonechat flycatching in the sunshine, two female Common Scoter on the sea. And a long sit on the bench to enjoy the afternoon sunshine. And that was it.
Except not quite. As we were leaving we mentioned to the staff we hadn't seen the Smew, and they pointed us towards the pool by the viewpoint, about as close to the centre as you could get, and there was the pair. a male is a tricky bird these days, and this one was fantastic. Thanks you RSPB staff.
Then as we were leaving, a herd of Red Deer on the Heath. 32, all hinds from what I could see. Just huge beasts. Scope filling views. Fantastic.
So in the end, a very decent list. And David got his adder photos. Fantastic they are too They are on his blog, and a bonus three from David below.