Never the same twice: Minsmere always offers something unexpected. This time it was a colony of ruff, although out of breeding season they are easily mistaken for gulls. A close look shows how different they are, even without the breeding neckwear of a Tudor gallant.
They were sharing the East Scrape with a variety of other birds: godwit, geese, plover and avocet. Very few were in flight: an overcast August makes even birds indolent. At least there was some warmth in the air. The hides were busy, which was helpful for some detailed identifications. Cameras as well as telescopes were busy.
As ever, a beach walk was a bonus and in this case we had plans for an improvised picnic bench just below the dunes. There were more plover and godwit on the edge of the sea and the Aldeburgh lifeboat was busy, going back and forth – we hoped on a training trip.
The swallows were still busy near the sluice although their nests had been vacated. It will soon be time for migration: swifts were already gone from some sites. A persistent buzz grew louder as we approached the wildlife hide: staff were reducing plant growth on the banks, so there were no birds about. To the north the Highland cattle and Konik horses were grazing undisturbed and on our walk back to the visitor centre we were lucky enough to see a silver washed fritillary, a first at Minsmere it seemed. Staff confirmed it had been seen near the same site earlier in the day but was probably coming to the end of its life.
Only after such a day does tiredness set in: a good thing someone else was driving.