Hey folks I took another trip to Minsmere yesterday and thought it warranted another blog! (people with no interest in disability/nature/photography feel free to tune out now)
So Saturday is my boyfriends day off and Addz loves to run, off road adventuring especially, so I convinced him to drag me up to minsmere and he could run around to sizewell while I chill out in the bird hides and take hundreds of photos!
After a massive thunderstorm in the morning we ended up leaving a few hours later than planned! (who wants to wheel around the woods in the rain and sat in a lightning conductor with wheels right?!)
Anyway we arrived mid morning and after getting drenched assembling my chair in the car park we made it to the visitors centre. we once again received a warm welcome and a recent sightings list as well as a map.
We headed off into the reserve and just after passing the pop up cafe in the woods everything stated to go down hill… I have power assist wheels on my chair and one of them started making the warning beep … it basically translates to ”I’ve stopped working and you are screwed” … in the middle of the woods.. great just great. Naturally being a girl and a drama queen I burst into tears and threw a hissy fit.. it didn’t help.
We had to decide what to do and I refused to waste the day and leave before photographing a single bird so I had Addz push me to the nearest hide, the nature hide. I set him free and he headed off for a quick 8 mile run while I sulked and tried my best to fix my chair, after a phone call to mum who found up the instruction manual it would seem that something had jammed in the drive mechanism. I did my best to clean it out but had no luck. So there I am sat on the floor of a bird hide, in my outdoor kit with various pieces of my wheelchair strewn all over the floor and camera kit everywhere. Fantastic.
Luckily for me an off duty member of the minsmere staff and her friends came to my aid. (I never did get their names but if you’re reading this and its you thank you very much!!) She called upstairs to the member of staff with a radio, they called the visitors centre and arranged a few options for my rescue. Either they could bring up and car and shuttle me back to the visitors centre, or they could get me an attendant propel chair (basically what my chair had turned its self into) they also checked if I could rent a scooter but they were all booked out. What eventually happened was that one of the centre staff (Ian who is the face behind most of Minsmere social media) came and sat with me until Addz got back. I made it up the stairs to the top level of the hide (I bum shufled) and managed to take a few photos that REALLY cheered me up! About 5mins after I got settled upstairs one of the regulars/volunteers/serious birders spotted a bittern! The 1st one I’d ever seen and I managed to get a few passable photos too!
Despite being stranded and faced with no wheels for the foreseeable future I actually really enjoyed my time in the hide, I got chatting to some amazing people including one of the guys who’s been creating and maintaining bird habitats like the scrape for 20 years!
After an hour or so Addz came back, sweaty and hungry, I thanked my RSPB escorts and we decided to move up to the next hide at the scrape. This is where the avocets and black headed gulls have been nesting and I spent a long time there last time I visited. I couldn’t believe the change. I knew from SpringWatch that a badger had been heavily predating but I couldn’t believe the difference. What had been covered in little twiggy nests was now depressingly bare, it was really sad to see. if you remember my 1st post on Minsmere you may have seen this photo…
Well now it looks a bit more like this…
I don’t think the photo does it justice and the other islands seem to have feared worse, a bit of me hopes that the chicks moved on really quickly and they are all off in the reeds playing happy families. Sadly for a lot of them I don’t think thats the case.
While sat up top in the scrape hide I noticed this beautiful scene.
I believe this is the family from the traffic cone all grown up. I think there were 6 fledglings and both parents all playing in the tree out to the right of the hide. Mum and dad were busy keeping them all fed on all sorts of tasty treats from the trees etc. To see the rest of the series and all my photos from the day check out the album on Flickr.
After Addz had had a picnic and I’d taken way too many photos of bluetit fledglings we headed back towards the woods then to the centre cafe for a quick refuel before our next stop. (Gluten free brownies and a coke and I was good to go again).
A very helpful RSPB bloke gave us some directions and we headed back to the car (with a quick stop for added cuteness)
The car parking (disabled badge owners only) was really hard to spot but once we found it everything was simple from there on out, we re assembled my chair and headed off down the path to Island Mere… at this point I noticed something odd. My power assist wheel was working again!!! Whoohoo! I think whatever was jammed in the wheel bit must have been shaken loose while Addz was pushing me.
The path to Island mere was pretty smooth and wide enough for my chair (intermittently wide enough for me and Addz side by side) and well signposted, the Island Mere hide was something else altogether! it was amazing with a long sloped boardwalk/ramp thing leading up to a hexagonal-ish, open spacious hide with wheelie office stools and chairs littered around. The boardwalk was lined with non slip stuff and had wooden side rails. The hide itself had winch opened perspex windows that I could operate easily from my chair, there was a lower (wheelchair friendly viewing bit) but actually all of the window sills were low enough for me to look out of easily.
There was a great selection of wildlife on view for people with LONG range lenses and expensive binoculars, and some for those of us with slightly less high tech cameras and a fast auto-focus 😉
I have to take a moment to praise one of the other birders there for his wit.
One of the BBC Film crew turned up to do some BBC film crewing. He stomped up below the boardwalk with his wellies on, peering into the reeds while rolling a fag, asif the tobacco would entice the birds out.. it didnt.. anyway he sploshed away scattering dragonflies and stirring up the silt.. the bloke next to me responded with…
‘‘That’s not the kind of bearded tit I was looking for”
Me Addz and him just stood there giggling and smirking as the ”bearded tit” sploshed away.
Anyway by this time it was well past lunch and we’d both done quite enough ‘nature’ for one day so we headed home and I edited photos and had a chinese takeaway.
Perfect end to a surprisingly good day!
My photos (as always) can be found on flickr
Ciao for now! x