We went to RSPB Minsmere on a bright but bitterly cold day full of optimism. This time last year, although a dull dreary day, we had seen many species of birds and had had good views of lots of waders. This year, on arrival, we were told that many of the hides were inaccessible due to flooding and that the East Scrape was no longer a scrape but part of a larger lake caused by the rains and a series of high tides which prevented the area from draining.
This view from near the visitors’ centre showed the East Scrape in the distance fully flooded.
We were told that the Wildlife Lookout was accessible but when we reached the path we discovered that at least wellies were necessary if not waders. We went on to the Bittern Hide. As soon as we arrived there was plenty of action with cormorants, mute swans and marsh harriers in flight. But it was not a pleasant experience as the sunshine was so bright that it was painful to sit there alone watch the birds.
Marsh harrier from the Bittern Hide.
We reckoned that the same would apply at Island Mere and so we made our way back to the visitors’ centre for a coffee. Through the woods there were great tits and long-tailed tits.
After a warming coffee we decided to brave the cold winds of the North Wall and head towards the sea. There was nothing to see en route and only a few lesser black-backed gulls on the coast. It was, however, much too cold to hang around. We did find that we could get to the hide on the East Scrape by skirting the flooded path but the rewards were not great with only very distant waders (mainly lapwing) at the back of the East (formerly) Scrape and 3 dunlin.
In the bright sunshine Southwold lighthouse and pier can be seen across the heavy seas of Dunwich Bay
The heavy seas reminded me of the storms of 1286 and of the mid 14th Century which washed away the town of Dunwich which are mentioned in the book I am reading by Rosamund Richardson “Waiting for the Albino Duck – how birds can change your life” and which, if the cold weather persists this week, I shall get a good chance to read.
It really was much too cold to hang around so we scurried back to base to catch up with some sports action; however, this brought me no solace as Arsenal put in a disgraceful performance to get evicted from the FA Cup in the 3rd Round. At least Wendy could feel some satisfaction as their victors were Nottingham Forest (although she was decent enough to hide her glee).