First Birding Trip 2017, Minsmere

2017 has begun, today we start a new year list with the intention of beating last years total of 158. What better way to start than to visit RSPB Minsmere, the flag ship, the one where it all began 128 years ago. A normal count here is circa 50 species on a good day.

I didn’t bother with North Hide today as it was clear skies with the sun reflecting off the water. Going towards the seafront you could hear the chirping of Bearded Reedlings (Panurus biarmicus) and Cetti’s Warblers (Cettia cetti). From the seafront I conducted some sea watching. In the distance I could make out the oil slick appearance that is classic of Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra). The identification was helped by seeing them last year at the same place as it happens.

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)

From East Hide the main attraction was the close views of the Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa). Additionally there were Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta), Dunlin (Calidris alpina), Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca), etc. I think it might be next month when all the waders and gulls will be populating the Scrape fully. Both West and South Hides were pretty bear of any avian life, so it was on to the Cafe for the obligatory ‘Soup of the day’.

Today’s choices were roast vegetable or tomato. I of course went for tomato due to my avid evasion of vegetables wherever possible. I had to sit outside as it was filled to the rafters in the cafe. It gave me the chance to observe the common garden birds that come to the cafes feeders. Whilst being there I got to see the Marsh Tit (Poecile palustris) that frequents itself to the feeding stations. I had to have the ID confirmed by the warden as Marsh and Willow Tits are near identical. They assured me that if I saw it at the feeder then it will be the Marsh Tit (Poecile palustris).

With lunch over I proceeded towards Island Mere hide. Upon the hill along the approach to the hide there was fleeting glimpse of a Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis), characteristically though it called out with its chuckle whilst taking off. There were also half a dozen little pale brown birds jumping around on the ground. They moved between areas of grass so quickly that identifying them was difficult. I resorted to taking a picture of them in order ID them later.

I entered the hide which was now filling up as a lot of visitors were waiting for the Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) roast to begin. Last year nothing really appeared, I did warn a couple that were close but they prevailed. The sunsets  here are picturesque, sometimes just looking out with the naked eye watching time slowly slip away can be very therapeutic. The Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) that would normally pass through remained on the water well past sunset. Apparently, they have remained here for a number of days.

Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) ©

Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) ©

From time to time flying above the reeds you could see the resident Marsh Harriers (Circus aeruginosus), the odd Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus) and at one point a distant Red Kite (Milvus milvus). The Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus) was so quick to take off and land again that no photo opportunity was present. With the additional drawback that there was limited light any picture would have been silhouetted.

For a first day it gave a decent start with some odd differences but a good day none the less. I would love to hear how your first days were so please leave a comment or email me at

Until next time, keep twitching.

Checklist: [google-drive-embed url=”” title=”20170102_Minsmere_28062635.pdf” icon=”” newwindow=”yes” style=”normal”]

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