Saturday, April 10, 2010

Easter 2010 - Wednesday April 7th

I got well over-excited on Wednesday morning. We had headed out on a pre-breakfast walk and I spotted a brown backed Oystercatcher, which reminded me of the American Oystercatcher. A quick look at the guidebook though and confirmation it did indeed have a 'white collar' showed it to be a normal Oystercatcher, maturing into it's first summer... oh well, would have been good :)

So that excitement over and after a hearty veggie fry-up at the Burleigh, we headed in land to the Ted Ellis Nature Reserve. This is a well kept secret and well worth a visit. The reserve itself is a former shooting estate that was converted to a nature reserve by the daughter and son-in-law of the shooter (I love ironies like this) and turned into a 'no shooting ever' nature reserve, excellent!

The warden was very friendly and chatted with us about the reserve, its history, current status, etc. and then suggested a route to us (we were after Lesser Spotted Woodpecker which remains our 'bogie bird').

The reserve was bursting with song the whole time we were there, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Robins, Song Thrushes, Mistle Thrushes, Blackbirds, Chaffinches, Willow Warblers (the first of the year):



One less welcome sighting was this mink:



The mink that were released by animal rights activists who, in trying to do the right thing by freeing them from captivity and a gruesome death - heads stuffed in jam jars to suffocate - ended up releasing a ferocious predator into an unprepared environment. A case of a wrong and an attempted right making a wrong. This mink will have to be trapped or the consequences for wildlife on the reserve will be significant.

We did also spot Water Vole, Field Vole, Roe Deer and Chinese Water Deer on the reserve and again this is somewhere we wholeheartedly recommend to any birder for a visit.

Next up, Minsmere, my personal favourite birding location in the UK. Even Minsmere seemed a bit quiet in the grey afternoon. The previous week had seen a Lesser Kestrel, alas nothing so exciting awaited our visit. We did enjoy watching the Marsh Harriers:



At least two pairs were visible at any one time. A lone Spotted Redshank was one of the few birds that wasn't a Black-headed Gull on the scrape:



As were the Barnacle Geese present:



On the beach a lone male Northern Wheatear:



Last but not least a pair of Sandwich Terns settled briefly on one island amongst the vociferous and widespread flock of Black-headed Gulls:



By now we were staying at the Premier Inn South-East of Ipswich, a 40 minute drive in rush hour, only 30 minutes when it's quieter, so headed off there for dinner.

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