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Sunday, 19 April 2009

No hide, no seek


A trip to Benacre Broad today and the weather couldn't have been more different from the fog shrouded Broad last week, the area was bathed in bright sunshine but the downside was a very fresh cold northerly wind. A walk across the cliffs revealed several Swallows and a group of 15 Sand Martins flying around the cliffs. A Spoonbill was seen trying to hide behind some reeds. This bird is larger than a Heron, with white plumage and a white head crest (in adults) and a very distinct spatular shaped bill. However, it spent most of its time asleep with the bill safely tucked under its wing! Spoonbills breed mainly in the Mediterranean but the nearest breeding colonies are in Holland and it is hoped that they may breed in Suffolk one day.
Also on the Broad were 2 fine Red-breasted Mergansers, a male and female. These sawbill sea  ducks feed on the sea. They breed along coasts, archipelagos and inland waters in mountain taiga areas in Northern Scandinavia and Northern Europe including Scotland. Both bird also sport particularly shaggy head crests and are very colourful. It won't be long before they head north to breed, but I was particularly grateful they stayed for a further week as I missed them in the fog last week. A pair of marsh harriers also quartered the reeds.
The Hide which overlooks the Broad will need to be moved before extensive sea erosion, which has already washed away large section of the beach and the cliff edge nearby washes it away. 
I have been told the landowner of the area refuses to site it a few hundred yards inland. This is a great shame, as the hide is used daily by birders, nature lovers and the general public, it really will be a return to the bad old days if the hide is taken away from this site. Benacre Broad needs its hide, please e-mail English Nature (who lease the site) if you would like to see the hide retained and hopefully we can persuade the owner to rescind her decision. Removing the hide from the area will, I think be counter productive, for both the owner and leaseholder, irresponsible people will trespass in order to get better views of the Broad and will inevitably lead to further disturbance to the wildlife.

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