This year BBC Spring Watch is due to be airing from the fantastic RSPB Minsmere Reserve on the Suffolk Coast. And rumour has it that cameras are already ready in position...
We have a great selection of properties in Suffolk and anyone who knows the area will agree there's some spectacular birding hot-spots along this protected coastline. Minsmere is a great one to visit if you fancy getting out for some fresh air. Thanks to its position Minsmere benefits from wetland, woodland and coastal habitat, tempting a range of species. Some of the favourites are the bitterns. These endangered birds belong to the heron family and love the reed banks of Minsmere – the reserve provides a home for up to 30% of the UK's population. Spring is a great time to visit and listen to their distinctive booming call, or if you're around in summer you may glimpse a parent bird on one of its feeding flights. Remember though, bitterns are secretive and silent birds, so you'll have to really keep your eyes peeled to spot one.
There are seven hides around the reserve and a number of areas to walk and and explore. The circular Coast Trail is roughly two miles and leads you through various habitats and to the public viewing platform. There is also The Island Mere Trail with access to the reedbed hides and a Woodland Trail which is the shortest of the three.
Marsh harriers can often be spotted above the reedbeds and both the Island Mere Hide and the Bittern Hide are elevated so tend to offer good views of them. The resident otters can be shy but have been spotted on the Scrape (a series of shallow man-made pools dotted with islands) which is also home to a large colony of avocets. When exploring the deciduous woodland keep your ears open for the gentle notes of nightingales and look out for a variety of wildflowers, rare poppies on the dunes and the purple heatherd-heaths in summer.
Minsmere is in a great location for breeding birds and those on their migration journeys. It's a fantastic place to get out and stretch your legs, and you are always bound to spot something. There is a shop and a tea room onsite, so why not make a day of it?
Take a look at the RSPB Minsmere Reserve website here.