Sunday, 7 April 2013

Marvellous Minsmere

Whilst staying in Norfolk, we spent a day a short distance away at the RSPB reserve of Minsmere in Suffolk.

Our previous visit had also been on a Bank Holiday weekend (June 2012), and once again we were pleasantly surprised by the visitor numbers.

Late morning cuppa
The plan was to meet up with JD, and his friend Laura, for some quality natural history observation, only first, JD was detouring to Aldeburgh to buy fresh fish. And then we both discovered that the mobile phone signal in much of the reserve is rubbish, which made finding each other somewhat tricky.

Whilst we waited, Our Lass and I wandered along the embankment to the coast.

Our Lass gettin' arty with it
Looking north towards Dunwich Heath
Still unable to hook up with JD, we had a spot of lunch and then wandered off towards the Bittern Hide. Here at last I found some phone signal and discovered that we had somehow crossed paths and missed a possible rendezvous. However, tracking anti-clockwise around the scrapes, we finally met the fish-purchasing crew. Phew.

Returning to the Bittern Hide, we were not fortunate enough to glimpse the bird after which it was named. But as we sheltered from the east wind and basked in some sunshine, we certainly weren't complaining!

View from Bittern Hide, with Sizewell nuclear power station in the background
After an afternoon tea break, we said our goodbyes to JD and Laura as they headed back to Bedfordshire. We made our way to the Island Mere Hide and settled down at the opposite end to the feverish ranks of photographers who were busy snapping a pair of Garganey, feeding right in front of the hide. The noise and commotion wouldn't have been out of place during a Formula One pitstop, with machine gun bursts of shutters firing and much jostling to secure the best viewing angle. At one point, the ducks moved in front of where we were sitting, and the Alpha Camera rushed over to grab the seat next to me, almost falling off it backwards in the process. In fact, the assembled throng was so engrossed in the whole Garganeyfest, that it took Our Lass some time to make them aware that they were missing a pair of Otters out in the mere.
A rapidly-departing Otter, exit stage right
And what all the fuss was about...

Male Garganey
Mr and Mrs Garganey
When all the fuss had died down, we were finally able to hear the calls of the ducks, the Garganey sounding for all the world like someone slowly dragging their thumbnail along a comb.

As the sun set, we were treated to the sight of several Marsh Harriers quartering the marsh, their backlit plumage and silhouettes floating silently above the glowing reeds.


biobabbler said...

Wow, great description of a bird call. And I LOVE when people get all arty with it. =) Glad you two were a good example of CALM (and not coincidentally more effective) wildlife viewing. Great lighting on those birds, jeepers.

Finally, it's nice to know that Bedfordshire is an actual town vs. just how Bridget Jones says she's going to bed. =) Thanks for the edification.

Imperfect and Tense said...

You're welcome, but confession time...

1. It was Our Lass who described the call, I just wrote it down;
2. Tis only Our Lass that does "arty", I appear to suffer from an art bypass;
3. The lighting was pretty flukey. Right place, right time, completely fortuitous;
4. Bedfordshire is actually a whole county (but would be considered tiny by American standards). I presume you're referring to the old song title "Up the little wooden hill to..."?

biobabbler said...

Eef. If only I was being literate. Nope. In Bridget Jones' Diary (the movie), she's hanging out with her dad and, padding upstairs in her jammies, says, "I'm going to Bedfordshire."

A whole county, eh? =) It could very well be of a respectable size if you're talking East Coast America. I'm out west, tho', where things are big and dry. In fact, Mariposa County, where I live, was dubbed "The Mother of all Counties" 'cause back in the heyday of the gold rush, they seemed to dump everything into this county. Which, of course, has since splintered and fractured down to something manageable.

Some day I need to get out your way, and see "the people" whose genetics I inherited; a place where one can be outside and not feel that the sun is trying to kill you. Imagine! =)

Imperfect and Tense said...

Wiki reckons that Beds is 477 square miles in area. Not a huge amount (unless you're trying to fit the duvet cover!).

Sun? What's that :o)

If you're ever over this way and need info or help, feel free to ask.