“Have you seen the Smew?” – a foray into twitching


One of the places I wanted to visit during our recent trip to Suffolk was RSPB Minsmere. We have a nature programme here in the UK called Springwatch and they have based themselves at this nature reserve during the filming. It always looked interesting and although I feed the birds in my garden and like to spot them on the beach I have never gone specially to seek them out.

Gav was happy to stay with Buddy (he couldn’t come in of course) and I set off on my new adventure. I didn’t know quite what to expect when I arrived at the visitor centre but quickly realised that they take all this nature watching very seriously with trails, hides, different types of habitats, enough for a week’s worth of exploring let alone the couple of hours I thought I’d be there.


I decided to take the coastal path that was 2 miles in length and took me past shingle beach and several lagoons. There are huge hides build along the side of the lagoons Wooden buildings on two levels where a dozen people can sit comfortably binoculars in hand watching and documenting. I ventured into three of these and in the second one a chap sat next to me and asked that question. “Have you seen the Smew?” My poor brain struggled with a response until I decided that honesty was the best policy and I explained this was my first visit to the reserve. To give him his due he did briefly explain what they looked like and that a sighting of a pair had apparently been made that day – he had come specially to see them. Then he turned and asked the people to his left if they had spotted them. The Smew were it seems being elusive.

Although I had an old pair of binoculars and my 100mm lens I struggled to see most of the birds out there. My equipment paled into insignificance set alongside what others were wielding. But I had a very enjoyable two hours or so and when I got the photos on the computer I did manage to zoom in so I could identify a few species.

The first photo above is of a Shelduck then there is a Wigeon and below are Avocets.


And of course here we have the lesser spotted Buddlington.


I don’t think I’ll be taking twitching up a hobby but like I say it was an enjoyable way to pass an afternoon.

2 thoughts on ““Have you seen the Smew?” – a foray into twitching”

  • Well you know that my favourite would be the spotted Bullington.

    My first thought about the man & his Smew questions was, did he ask to see who was a true birder or not – like an inside joke among the twitchers. I am sure it was a delightful walk. I have only once driven out to see specific birds – it was a pair of escaped swans on the nearby lake. Like you I enjoy feeding the back yard variety & get excited when a new visitor arrives – I am still hoping for Orioles to visit – every May I put out oranges slices for them to entice them.

  • Lol! When I worked from home I spent lots of my time watching the goings on of the birds in the garden and one very cold (for us!) snowy February we had a flock waxwings arrive. They stayed long enough to clear a tree of berries and then flew off. It was an amazing and sight. Here’s to a visit from the Orioles!

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