In The Minsmere Bird Reserve

Posted On November 30, 2009 

Common Info:

MinsmereMinsmere is a perfect place for families to enjoy scenic Suffolk coastline and engage in a perfect birdwatching venture. Birding at Minsmere is a flagship reserve of the Royal Society for the Protection of Bird (RSPB), a Bristish charitable organization in Suffolk, England, founded in 1889 and that works for conservation and protection of birds and the environment in whole. It operates a number of nature reserves across the United Kingdom. Saxmundham, Suffolk, is the nearest town to Minsmere. Minsmere was established as the Minsmere Bird Reserve in 1948. The reserve is known for its wetland breeding birds. The reserve forms part of the Minsmere – Walberswick Special Protection Area that includes large swathe of coastal land from the estuary of the River Blyth to Minsmere River.

Country Info:

The United Kingdom is an island country located in the northwest coast of Europe comprising of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The only land border of the UK is with Ireland. The UK is surrounded by Atlantic Ocean, North Sea, English Channel and the Irish Sea.  London is the capital of the United Kingdom.

Birds of Minsmere:

Minsmere offers a rich diversity of birdlife. Birds to watch here include:

  • Minsmere bird reserveBearded Tits (can be seen while walking along the North Wall and at island Mere and Bittern Hides all the year round)
  • Bitterns (Bittern Hides and Mere Island are the places where they are commonly found)
  • Marsh Harriers
  • Avocet (can be seen from early spring to autumn on the Scrape)
Spotting birds:
  • Bearded tits can be seen flitting over the reeds as you walk along the North Wall, the path along the west side of the scrape and from Island Mere and Bittern Hides all year-round.
  • Minsmere nature reserveNightingale (heard singing in spring. Their songs can even be heard throughout the night)
  • Warblers can be found around the reserve during spring. Dartford warblers can be found while the great spotted woodpeckers’ drumming can also be heard. Sand Martins, Bluebells are also found.
  • Redshanks, ruffs and various types of wading birds can be found from late June when they are on their return flight. Little terns nest in a specially fenced area on the beach. Young marsh harriers start flying from this time around. Besides the birds, dragonflies and butterflies and a range of colourful rare flowers are also found during this time of the year.
  • Migratory birds like curlew sandpipers, little stints and ruffs appear during the autumn time. Winter wildfowl and Brent geese are also found. The first Bewick’s swans arrive in late October. Large starling flocks gather to roost in the reedbeds. Swallows and House martins get ready to return
  • Come winter and thousands of wigeons, teals and lapwings will be seen assembling on the Scrape along with other wildfowl and wading birds.  Bewick’s swans, golden Eyes and White-fronted geese. Hunting hen, Marsh harriers, short-eared owls and peregrines could also be spotted around this time. Great spotted woodpeckers begin their drumming activities on mild days. Red-throated divers and great crested grebes also line up offshore.
How to reach Minsmere:

Darsham (5 miles away) on east Suffolk line from Ipswich and Lowerstoft is the nearest railway station. Nearest bus stop is Leiston which is 4 kilometres away. If walking or cycling, one has to follow A12 north, turn right to Westleton and then follow successive signs from there. If travelling from Leiston, one need to follow B1122 past Leiston Abbey, turn right to Eastbridge and continue moving along the tarmac road. If one comes from south one must follow brown tourist signs from A12 at Yoxford and Blythburgh (if from north). From Westleton, one has to take Dunwich road and then first right, following the brown tourist signs. From the crossroads, one has to turn left and follow reserve entrance track. The Minsmere Park is also reachable by foot trails. One can walk along the beach from Dunwich Heath National Trust car park or from Sizewall Beach or from Eastbridge to Minsmere Sluice.

  • Visiting the Visitors’ Centre where information can be gained on various wildlife found in the park
  • Extensive guided walk programmes for the beginners in birdwatching.  Birds can be seen from birding hides
  • Cycling trails in the nature park
  • Wildlife explorer back packs can be hired free of charge. These include activity booklets, binoculars, bug box, identification charts, books, colour pencils and such other things
  • Art exhibition on Suffolk landscapes
  • Wildlife walking trails
  • Digiscoping
  • Painting workshop
  • Minsmere accomodationScotts Hall Cottage
  • High Oaks at Westleton
  • Old Rectory Cottages
  • Warren Lodges
  • Cretingham Country Lodges
  • Holy Tree Cottage
  • Rose Cottage
  • Fordley Cottage
  • Misletoe Cottage
  • Corner Cottage
Facilities at Minsmere:
Viewing points:

There are seven birdwatching hides and a public viewing platform in Minsmere. Three among them are wheelchair accessible. Two hides overlook the reedbed.

Nature trails:

Minsmere has two circular trails, each of about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the visitor centre. The circuit of the Scrape takes one through scrub, reedbeds, and along the beach. North, West and South Hides and the North Wall viewing platform are accessible to pushchairs and wheelchairs, but East Hide and the public viewing platform can only be reached via the beach. There are two temporary trails to view the autumn migrants. The North Bushes trail starts close to North Hide and takes one in search of migrant warblers and flycatchers. The Reedbed Trail on the other hand, is a loop through the reedbed behind South Hide. The Island Mere circuit takes one through woodland and reedbeds. This route is not wheelchair accessible.

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