Sunday 20 May 2018

Caspian Gull at Minsmere

Sunday 13th May and it was off on the long drive to Suffolk for a few days away visiting family and doing a bit of birding. The journey was uneventful with the usual road kill seen along the way - roe deer, fox, pheasent, badger, rabbit, hedgehog, woodpigeon, muntjac deer, etc. - but more pleasant fare were swifts overhead, brimstones fluttering along the verges, a red legged partridge in a field along the A303 and 3 red kites (1 over the M3 and 2 together over the M25).

Monday 14th May and we visited the National Trust house and gardens at Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge with Mum and cousin Claire who was celebrating her birthday. We visited Anglesey Abbey a few years ago on a winters day when we only saw a small part of the gardens and a few rooms in the house and so it was nice to revisit for a better look around.

The wildflower meadow in the house grounds was full of cowslips while the surrounding woods held a few holly blues, my first of the year. 2 muntjac deer were as surprised to see us as we were to see them as they ran across the footpath in front of us before disappearing into the trees giving a dog like bark as they went.

 Cowslip, Anglesey Abbey

 Holly Blue

Fungus Sp.

Tuesday 15th May and I managed to wangle a day at Minsmere, well 3 and a half hours anyway. David dropped me off at the reserves reception at 11:30, a little later than I had hoped for, and I was picked up at 3pm but I made the most of my short time and enjoyed some great birding.

I began my walk along the North Wall to the East Hide, seeing sand martins hawking overhead and hearing reed warblers chuntering in the reeds on the way. At the East Hide 2 green hairstreaks were flitting about in the trees by the path, looking stunning in the bright sunshine but chilly wind and creating quite a bit of interest from passers by.

Green Hairstreak, Minsmere

A cacophony of sound from the nesting black headed gulls on the scrape greeted me as I sat in the East hide scanning around. Waders present were a female ruff, avocets, black tailed godwits, a common sandpiper, redshanks, lapwings, a ringed plover and 3 dunlin with gadwall, shelduck and shoveler representing the ducks. Kittiwake, black headed gulls, Mediterranean gulls looking stonking in the sunshine with jet black heads, bright red bills and ghostly white bodies, lesser black backed gulls, greater black backed gulls and herring gulls were noted but there was no sign of the reported little gull. Common terns were flying around with 3 little terns also seen - a pair with the male busily catching fish to feed to the female resting nearby with both birds vigorously chasing off another passing bird.

The Scrape, Minsmere

Black Tailed Godwit




Common Tern

Common Tern

Common Tern

Little Tern

The highlight was a 1st summer Caspian gull which was flying around and resting on the islands, a striking bird but not as much as the 2 other birds I have seen in the past and with a smaller looking bill. It kept to itself and lesser black backed gulls nearby kept out of its way when it came near to them before I lost track of it amongst all the birds flying around.

Caspian Gull

Caspian Gull

Caspian Gull

Caspian Gull

Carrying on around the Scrape to the South and West hides added a flyover grey plover, a bar tailed godwit, 5 knot, 2 turnstone and 2 oystercatcher to the wader tally and mallard, a male teal and a male wigeon to the duck list along with greylag, Canada and barnacle geese and 4 Sandwich tern.

From the Island Mere hide 5 hobbies were dashing around catching insects and 2 singing sedge warblers showed very well from bushes amongst the reeds. Also seen were 2 pairs of marsh harrier flying over the reed bed, a good view of a flyby bittern before it landed in cover and a few brief flight views of pinging bearded tits over the reed tops before it was time to head back to the reception for my lift home.

Sedge warbler

I could have done with more time but it had been a very productive visit with a small copper, a calling cuckoo, sticklebacks, hairy dragonfly, large red damselfly and ant lion larva devouring hapless insects in their sand pit traps adding to the great sightings of the day.

Small Copper



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