Two and a half weeks ago I went to Minsmere for the first time. I would like to start by saying that Minsmere is an amazing reserve - it has a bit of everything. We started the day shortly after first light surrounded by Bearded Tits. They were everywhere, and quite happily sitting out in the open showing off. Another bird removed from my BVD list.
To be honest, I could have driven home straight after that and the day would have been a win, but a bit of Seawatching produced a large flock of Common Scoter, and a lone bird flying heavily which Parus is now convinced was the wandering King Eider. It might have been as well, serves us right for not researching better.
Ring Ouzel hunting didn't go so well, and a continental Blackbird fresh out of Scandanavia has the crowds on edge for a good 20 minutes as it refused to provide conclusive views. Eventually, we were inevitably disappointed.
Lifer for the day appeared in the shape of a Hen Harrier, and a big flock of almost-lifers gave me a moment's excitement before I was informed that in Suffolk they're untickable. Drat. Pictures below:
Stopped off at Abberton on the way back, which was covered with small brown wadey things. Picked up a large flock of very obvious Spotted Redshanks, was pointed at a Pectoral Sandpiper and a few Curlew Sands and saw my first Spoonbill of the year very distantly in a brief and uncharacteristic pause between sleeping and more sleeping.
On an unrelated note, we have had patchlist++ with a very bold Chaffinch hopping about under people's feet and ignoring the pigeons round Tower Bridge. This brings me up to a whopping 33 for the year. That's four up on last year already (I've had to remove 'Stock Dove' from last year's list because, let's face it, it was a feral pigeon), and I've got the rest of the winter to find an interesting gull among the hordes. Looks like the patch target will be going up again for next year.