We arrived at around midday, and set off in the direction of the famous East Hide at the very east end of the reserve near the beach. A Green Woodpecker (yeartick) was seen in and around the North Bushes not very far from the visitor centre, and as the vast expanse of reedbeds that came into view for the first time a Little Egret (yeartick) flew over the path. We walked alongside the path opposite the beach until we reached the turn for East Hide, and once inside the hide I immediately became absorbed by the bird haven that is Minsmere. The fantastic thing about reserves like Minsmere is that even during times where most would deem it as ‘quiet’, there is still so much to see and the amount of common birds present is just sensational. On top of that, what East Anglian birders would class as the ‘norm’ are a delight to a lot of visiting birders. Within seconds of arriving I was on some Avocets (yeartick), a bird you just don’t get with any sort of regularity in North East Scotland at all. Whenever I see these fantastic waders I cannot help but be gob-smacked by their beauty; they truly are the embodiment of grace. What’s more, at Minsmere – and in East Anglia – they are a widespread wader. From the East Hide alone there were at least 25 and by the end of the day I had counted upwards of 40 Avocets throughout the reserve. Below are a couple of pictures I managed of these delightful waders from East Hide.
At first there didn’t appear to be a great deal going on from Island Mere Hide at all, with spectacularly close views of a pair of Marsh Harriers providing the main form of entertainment for everyone. We had been sat there for 15 minutes and were just about to leave when suddenly a man sitting nearby exclaimed ‘There’s a Bittern, coming out of the reeds about 25ft away!’ Everyone in the hide turned their attention to this area of reeds and sure enough, out of the reeds emerged a Bittern (yeartick). Everyone watched in awe as it proceeded to creep low down in a cat-like fashion right out into the open, it’s snake-long neck outstretched as it took giant yet silent steps and looked around warily, as if it had realised how conspicuous it had become. Once it was fully on show I proceeded to get my camera out and photograph it determinedly. The views of this enigmatic bird were unbelievable as not only was it at close quarters, but it also stayed right out in the open for upwards of half an hour which was ridiculously good! Within that half an hour the bird got closer and closer and I took hundreds of photos of it, capturing it in many different stances including the typical camouflage stance in which it stretches its neck completely upright to try and blend in with the reeds – something they are remarkably good at doing. The astonishing show that this bird was unconsciously putting on had everyone bowled over, including me; this was by far the best view I had ever had of Bittern and certainly the most prolonged views! It took my Dad a while to convince me to leave, but eventually I gave in and headed back to the car an immensely happy guy. I hope the several pictures go to show how amazing the views of this bird were.