Saturday, 4 June 2016

Post 416 - Minsmere & a great end to a brilliant weekend!

Little Egret at the scrape at Minsmere
Hey everyone, a second post today, Post 416, as a lot has happened recently and I need to write it up before School starts again next week!

Marsh Harrier from the Island Mere Hide
Well you’ll know from my recent posts (Post 411 & Post 415) that I spent a bit of time in East Anglia with the BTO and some really fantastic young birders and heaps of bird experts from the BTO. What a great time that was. We knew it was going to be a busy weekend with early starts, late nights and days full of activities. So, as we’d travelled a long way Dad thought it would be just as well to have an extra night in the area (somewhere that had beds and showers!) and maybe pop somewhere else before heading back to Yorkshire....

So plans were made for a good long night's sleep in a hotel and for a visit to RSPB Minsmere before we headed back up to Yorkshire! I was so focused on the BTO Bird Camp I had totally forgotten what happens in the Spring at Minsmere: Springwatch! How could I have forgotten?! Well I saw the tweets about a week before Bird Camp which was great and got in touch and they said they hoped to see me while I was there. In the background Dad was busy emailing and we received an invite to be in the Unsprung audience so I was really excited about that as well as visiting Minsmere.

Southern Marsh Orchid
We arrived to news that the Purple Heron was still on the reserve and had been seen about 2 hours before we got there so we headed to Bittern Hide to see if it was around. It wasn’t there and the hide was busy so after a few minutes we moved on to Island Mere Hide. We hadn’t even got into the hide and we saw a Bittern fly in to the reeds at the side of the hide, only the second one I’ve ever seen! It was out of sight too quickly to get my camera on it though! Just outside of this hide I saw my first orchid of the year too, one I'd not seen before, the Southern Marsh Orchid. It was just emerging but was still beautiful.

Cormorant drying its wings
I watched Cormorants drying their wings, Marsh Harriers hunting, Great Crested Grebes diving, it was a lovely spot to wait to see if the Heron would show up. Then I got a bit of a surprise. Lindsay Chapman from Unsprung turned up in the hide and asked if she could have a chat with me. Obviously I said ‘Of course’ and then I noticed the camera. The chat was about my blog, how I’d managed to write about nature every day for a year, the BBC Wildlife Magazine Junior Blogger of the Year award and the BTO bird camp. At the end of it though she presented me with an Unsprung Hero’s Award. I was so surprised, it was hard to take in, but I was very proud to get it. I'm just glad I didn't burst into tears of joy on camera!

You can see the interview on the BBC Springwatch Website if you click the link below the picture:

On the Springwatch patio with Dad!
Sneaky peak at the
live cameras!
Dad had to fill in a consent form so that the film could be used on TV so we had to go to the place that Springwatch was based on the reserve.

We got to have a little look behind the scenes and at the studio. That was quite exciting too.

Well it wasn’t even dinner time so we went back on to the reserve to see what else was about. It was a great day for nature. I saw 60 species that day on the reserve and 3 new lifers – a Sandwich Tern, Long Tailed Duck and a Mediterranean Gull. The Purple Heron decided to be elusive though.
Sandwich Tern behind the Kittiwakes
I bumped into another person who was there looking for it too, and they’d had a bit of bad luck as they were walking between the hides when it had decided to show early that morning. It was the Birding Biker – Gary Prescott. We had a lovely chat about what we both do and our blogs, it was great to hear about all the places he’s going to to see if he can beat last year’s list. I read on his blog later that he’d seen the Purple Heron at about 6pm.

Lindsay & me after the interview
I was a bit jealous when I read that but I was back in the Springwatch studio at that point getting ready for Unsprung as Dad and I were invited to be in the Audience. He’d arranged that earlier as well as getting me into the right hide at the right time for the surprise Unsprung Hero’s award. I wondered if we’d be seen on the show when we got to stand right in a corner but when Chris started to do a bit of a rehearsal I realised that I’d be in the opening shots stood right next to him! We got moved around a bit in the show too by Royston the floor manager so if you saw that episode I pop up now and again in different places.

My award badge!
On the Unsprung set
The show was great to see, getting the Unsprung Hero's award was amazing and it had been such a wonderful day on the reserve that I couldn't be too disappointed that I didn't see the Purple Heron. It was a great day to end an incredible weekend. I think I smiled all the way back to Yorkshire.

Hope you enjoyed,



  1. Awww so cool Zach, congratulations on winning and I love your shots here too! - Tasha