What a lovely day I have had today!
On Sunday a Western Purple Swamphen flew into Minsmere but having just got back from Scotland we didn’t really have the energy to go for it even though we probably should have. Yesterday Ian was golfing and I had a smashing day with Janice here but I was doing some planning around that bird! Hopefully it will be accepted as wild and it will then be a first for Britain so I certainly wanted it on my 2016 list! I thought we might go this morning and stay overnight but we decided not to so a day trip it was to be. I asked if any family wanted to join us and we were delighted to hear that both of our granddaughters, Alice and Matilda, said they wanted to come.
We collected the girls at 8am and we were off and on arrival at Minsmere our first stop was definitely going to be to find the star bird. We were in luck, although it wasn’t showing when we got there we didn’t have to wait long. He popped out from the reeds, never very far but we all saw it clearly and even managed a few pictues.
I do like a bird that I can be certain of once I have seen it and this one surely fits into that catergory! He is a big bird and his bright colour coupled with his even brighter bill, legs and huge feet, there is no mistaking it! Having watched him for a while we moved on and decided that the rest of our day we would just do what we fancied and the girls wated to head for the sea. There weren’t any other birds that we were after, in fact there weren’t a great many birds at all, although there was no shortage of egrets! So off we went for a walk.
We headed to the sea, where Alice was keen to touch the water.
It had turned into a bright, though breezy day but thankfully we found quite a few butterflies near the beach. We were delighted to see a common blue and before long there were loads of them!
Next we found a new one for all of us, if we had seen it before we certainly hadn’t identified it! A Grayling, new for our list so we were very pleased. There was also a variety of grasshoppers that I hope we will be able to ID
Next stop was to be lunch so we headed off to the cafe, making some stops along the way. We added two new insects that we had never seen before, one rather nice the other I was less keen on! First was the Pantaloon bee, a mining bee that carries loads of pollen on his hind legs, in flight it looks yellow! The second was the Bee-wolf which is actually a wasp and a cunning one at that! It burrows undergound to lay its eggs then drags honey bees into the tunnel and stores them there so when the eggs hatch they have the bees to feed on. Yeuk!
When we had nearly reached the cafe we saw a water vole, sadly no time for a photo but we were chuffed. The budlias were in full bloom and certainly attracting the butterlies, painted ladies, peacocks, red admirals and even the occasional large skipper!
In the afternoon Alice and Matilda followed a nature trail which took us to various places on the site and even led us to damsleflies and a super dragonfly too! It was really lovely having the girls with us, they made it a lovely day and of course that is helped by their behaviour, they are a treat to be out with!
Nature trail completted there were still a couple of things we wanted to find. When chatting to Ian (not our Ian but a friend that works at Minsmere) he told the girls about somethings that caught thier imaginations especially somewhere you could see what it is like to be in a Sand martin wall! We thought we were going to fail to find it but a the end of the afternoon we found it and I must say it was pretty cool.
Alice tried out being a bird on a nest but Matilda gave it a miss!
Hopefully before too long the Swamphen will be accepted, well its going on my list tonight! So a new bird and a new butterfly and some extra insects too, all boosting the year list. The bird was great but having the gorgeous Alice and Matlida along really made it a smashing day and I hope they come out with us again soon.