Set off this morning with the plan of heading for the Minsmere, Walberswick area.
We started the days birding on Dunwich Heath searching for Dartford Warblers. The weather was some what colder than expected and with the wind blowing across the heath off the sea it felt even colder.
We parked up and walked one of the grass paths across the heath. A cracking male Stonechat came into view. Perched up on a small piece of gorse. Then the familiar sound of a Dartford Warbler was heard quite close by. A few Brief views of the bird sitting up were had, but it was soon diving down into thick cover to escape the conditions.
Leaving Dunwich we decided to head for Minsmere, but having turned onto the entrance road news broke that the Broad-billed Sandpiper was showing again at Tinker's Marsh. We decided to turn the car around and make the extra 10+ mile journey.
Parking up outside The Harbour Inn we crossed the Bailey Bridge and headed off West along the river wall. After a mile and a half walk out, we found a small group of birders and busily feeding on the pool in front of them was a group of Dunlin and among them was the Broad-billed Sandpiper. It was showing really well and much closer than I was expecting the bird to be when we set off. It was also good to see it feeding with Dunlin and Ringed Plover to get a great size comparison.
Three Curlew Sandpipers were found feeding on the first pool and an added bonus was the appearance of an Caspian Gull present among the regular gulls on the same pool.
Eventually we made our way back to the car and headed off towards Minsmere.
At Minsmere at this time of year we always stop and check out the Sand Martin bank. Great views of these birds flying back and froth from their nest holes. I was more surprised to see a Blue Tit entering one of the nest holes several times.
Further along the path several Common Whitethroats were seen and heard and a more distant Lesser Whitethroat was picked up. The wind was still quite brisk, and it was surprising to see and hear several Bearded Tits at the front of the Reeds.
We reached the East Hide and very quickly picked out the Red Necked phalarope at the back of the scrape feeding in the company of a couple of Avocets.
Another much overdue year tick was added when two Sandwich Terns headed across the scrape. Plenty of swallows were found around the sluice, but there was no sign of any Spoonbills on the South levels today.
We decided to spend some time in the Bittern Hide before leaving for home. What a good choice that turned out to be! Stunning views of several Bitterns were had, including a single bird that appeared from the reeds and spent most of the next hour in view. Swifts were numerous across the reedbeds as were Marsh harriers.
The day ended with a life tick and six year ticks!