Monday, 17 March 2014

Minsmere birding and Snake searching

Given the choice of a life tick or a relaxing day in Suffolk, we took the second option.
It turned out to be a really relaxing day, just strolling around Dunwich Heath and then Minsmere. By taking the Suffolk option it also meant meeting up at 6am instead of the suggested 2-3am if we had chosen Pembroke.
Arriving at the heath around 7.45 the first Dartford Warbler was spotted before leaving the car.
Perched up on top of a gorse bush singing it's heart out.
I spent the next 2 hours either wandering around the heath or sitting among it, sometimes to my cost when sitting on the gorse rather than the heather! Not to be recommended.
The warblers seemed to prefer the area around the Heath Field Barn Study Centre, and the further we got away from that area the fewer warblers were seen and heard.
I never managed to be in the right place at the right time, but grabbed a couple of record shots anyway.

Dartford Warbler

Minsmere was calling, so after a quick drive we were parked up and heading off down the path towards North Hide.
A quick scan and a Spotted Redshank is found feeding in the shallow pools. Another scan and a pair of newly arrived Garganey are located at the back of a small island. 
At the Bittern Hide a Cetti's Warbler lands in a tree in front of the hide, and a Water Rail flies across the channel in front of us.
Two Marsh harriers are watched and a Bittern takes a brief flight before dropping back down among the reeds.
Time for some snake searching, conditions seemed good for finding the odd Adder today, although heading into the wind it felt much colder.
It didn't take too long before the first one was found. As was expected it had tucked itself in amongst the leaf litter on the sheltered side of the brambles.



In the hour of searching we managed to find eight individuals in total.

The rest of the time was spent walking along the paths heading towards the beach, with occasional stops at the hides to scan the scrapes.
Barnacle Goose was added to the year list and several Pintail were seen.
As we reached the beach large numbers of gulls were seen leaving the nearby fields and heading towards the scrapes on the reserve.
A target bird today was Caspian Gull and after reaching East Hide out luck was in, when three individuals were found among the Herring and Lesser Black-backed's.

A brief stop at Walberswick in search of Yellow-legged Gull was unsuccessful, but it might well be worth another visit when the place is a little less busy with dog walkers, crab fishermen and kite flyer's.


  1. Where abouts did you see the Dartford Warbler? I'm going to Minsmere this week and that would be a lifer!!!! Still loving the blog!!

  2. Hi Adam
    Dunwich Heath is reached by taking Minsmere Road.
    Just keep driving along this road and you will eventually reach a car park at the end of the road. From here you can look across to Minsmere Reserve.
    Any of the gorse either side of this road is good for Dartford Warblers.
    Their scratchy song normally gives them away, but they frequently perch up on top of the gorse.
    Sometimes they can take a bit of searching out, but we had spotted our first bird before leaving the car last Sunday.
    you should see them without any problems.
    Good Luck, I hope you have a great day Birding and see plenty of Dartford Warblers.

  3. The large expanse of Gorse on the right as you approach the row of white houses has always delivered Dartford Warblers for me.
    2-3 birds were singing quite close to the Heath Barn Field Study Centre last week, so this would be as good an area as any to start your search. Anywhere within this large area of gorse should get you a life tick.
    Good Luck.