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Monday, 7 May 2012

Minsmere Black- winged Stilts

Discovering on BirdGuides at 1.30pm, that there were 2 BWS at Minsmere, I was galvanised into action, I had received the message via BINS but my phone was in "flight mode" and hadn't given me an audible "Bleep bleep". By 2.45pm I arrived at Minsmere having already heard a Nightingale in full song from the car as I turned onto the Minsmere entrance road from the Westleton Heath and saw Paul & Jane plus Norfolk visitor Paul W, who wondered why I was so late in arriving? It was my first visit in a while to Minsmere and a lot has changed, has the place turned into a children's centre?? The shop and reception had doubled inside complete with a buggy park and a "Children's adventure park" in the woods plus another 2 play areas for children in the woods (the area which used to be good for LSW's) which you walk through to get to the West hide. On a later visit to the new Island Mere hide I was relieved to find they hadn't added a giant water shute funnelling children sliding into the water there or an even later visit to the field by the entrance road crossroads they hadn't added the feared Crazy Golf course!! I'm all for getting more people interested in nature and children especially (indeed they are the future of nature conservation) but is this really the way forward?? Back to the birds, I had to wade through 8 inch deep severe flood waters from the path by West and extending to South hides (bypassing the Children's Aqua Circus tent (only kidding!) Up on the bank by the sluice bushes, I saw Dick W and his wife and we looked out over the flooded levels and the 2 excellent Black- winged Stilts were wading in the water distantly. They were obviously a pair, the male had a black smudge on his head, the female completely white headed. The male spent most of his time wading to the right of the now sitting female. The male at one stage flew up and down towards her. In the drier field just north of the levels I spied 4 Wheatear (2 males, 2 females) and a male Stonechat perched on an 8 inch stem. Walking back, the characteristic 7 note call heralded 2 Whimbrel flying north over the sea. By the North bushes, by the area behind the old reception hut, no sign of the Wryneck initially (a Whitethroat was seen here) but then it was seen on the bank at the back about a foot from the top. It then perched on a bramble and later when I returned with my Gitso tripod seeing Sparky with his new secondhand Canon 600mm lens! (also good to see Andrew H and Tina at the shop and Jon E at the car park) it flew over to the hawthorn around 50 feet from us, the excellent Wryneck then hopped along the ground towards us before flying into a tree briefly before flying back to the Gorse near the bank at the back. A Cuckoo could be heard behind us. A Lesser Whitethroat was heard briefly scolding. from the North hide, the Scrape was very flooded, consequently very few waders seen, Turnstone and a Common Sandpiper that flew in. 2 Common Terns seen too. At the new Island Mere hide, I saw 4 Marsh Harriers (3 male, 1 female seen) in flight, 2 Little Grebes and 1 GC Grebe seen. 1 Bearded Tit flew out from the reeds briefly. Whilst 10 Swift, 10 House Martin and 5 Sand Martin seen too. By the entrance field just before the cross roads, I looked north and noted 1 male Wheatear (and 1 male Wheatear in the field behind us). Also a fine late Fieldfare seen in the middle of the field, plus close in to the fence, a Song Thrush. Finally 40 Linnet flew up onto telegraph wires.

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