I went to Minsmere last week with my friend and former colleague Alistair Gammell. Alistair is a great guy and Minsmere is a great nature reserve.
We chatted to several other visitors – and we helped a few of them see some birds. It was good to hear others’ stories of the birds in their gardens and their excitement at being at a place like Minsmere where they could see lots of wildlife. It isn’t just kids who are mad about nature – it’s a bunch of retired adults too who have the time, and some of them the money, to get out and immerse themselves in nature.
But we were shown things too. I wondered what the two young ladies were doing, sitting on the boardwalk, but when we reached them they pointed out the Water Vole chomping on a stem just below our feet. I would have walked straight past looking up at the Sand Martins – which were lovely – but so was the Water Vole. Everyone needs help – point things out to other nature-lovers.
We had a brilliant view of a Bittern flying past the Island Mere Hide – very close. That was very memorable.
But even more memorable was the butterfly that fell fluttering to the ground in front of us as we walked along the woodland edge. It was, on closer inspection, a Red Admiral. But on even closer inspection it was being attacked and eaten by a Hornet. After a few seconds the Hornet, with the Red Admiral clasped in its jaws (I think) corkscrewed up, about 15 feet, into the oak tree above us. It corkscrewed in the sense that it went pretty much straight up but on a very tight spiral path. It was very impressive and very memorable.
There were close Little Egrets, ping!-ing Bearded Tits, displaying Mediterranean Gulls, a red Red Knot and a grey Red Knot, some immature Little Gulls, loud Cetti’s Warblers and much more. Minsmere never disappoints.