As this was my first ever solo trip to the reserve I had the luxury of being my own boss, so I decided to hang around the hide for a while as it often produces Bittern viewings, and a regular confirmed that there was usually a flypast at the time of the morning we were in there.
I'm told is was a female and it flew towards a known nest side and then veered left to far side and started an extended preen.
It wasn't the only attraction as there were three and then four Marsh Harriers together, a lone circling Common Tern and then, blow me down, another Bittern which flew out and away towards the Bittern hide. I was told that after the preen the Bittern usually flies towrds the nest, but I'd invested a lot of time in the hide and the call of a Latté in the café was too much.
After the drink it was straight out into the reserve towards the sea. I noticed a patch of Piri Piri Burr near the North hide and reported it. It is an invasive plant from New Zealand that I saw on Springwatch and they are actively eradicating it. Note the white tanged barbs.
At this time of the year it is worth visiting the East hide just to get the heady scent of the Honeysuckle that grows on the side of the pathway. Again, it's not often that you are the only one in this popular hide.
And a quick snap of one of the many Avocets and I was on my way again. I decided to head up the coast away from the reserve and in the opposite direction the National Trust Dunwich Heath site.
On the way I spied two plants that I'd never noticed before, namely Sheep's-Bit and Restharrow. It's another of those when-you-get-your-eye-in moments.
There was a stiff South Westerly at times so I decided to head for the beach and find a shady spot up against the sandy bank that butts onto the beach. Again, there was a lot of Tern action and I sat with a view out to sea surrounded by Sea Poppies, Sea Kale and a large nuclear Dinosaur egg.
On the path to my beach side lunch I noticed a lot of white scat so the suggestion was a carnivore and I'm going for Fox as I found a twisty scat with a 'tail' as well. This one is featured because it caught my eye.
Picking it apart with Gorse twigs the thing that caught my attention was revealed; it looks, at least to me, like the Fox ate a small snake and this is it's skin. Happy to be corrected thought.
I also spied a Linnet in some Gorse and as I was on my own I didn't need to take a speedy snap so I slowly moved in on it and got a half decent photo.
I made my way back via the sluice gate path and found another plant that I've never noticed before; Marshmallow. The confectionery was originally made from the plant's roots and again, once I got my eye in it was everywhere along the path. The leaves were as velvety as the Restharrows were greasy.
A little further on it was obvious why everything from Bitterns to Egrets flourish here as by the path there were many young Roach and Perch together in a shoal. To me it is funny to see a predator with a non-predator and if there were a size difference one would have eaten the other.
I decided to have another quick jaunt to the island mere hide before going home via another caffe latté and had some more excellent views of the Marsh Harriers including a pair passing food, a Bearded Tit, a Merlin (which I'm pleased to say I spotted first) and blow me if we didn't also see a juvenile Bittern that a member of staff spotted!