Jonathan Smithies
Wildlife Photography

Chasing warblers at Minsmere

Over the June half term I drove 6 hours across the country to the Suffolk coast to visit a natural paradise for birds and wildlife, RSPB Minsmere. The reserve boasts a wide variety of natural habitats, including heathland, coastland, woodland, wetland and marshland, all in one relatively small but gloriously rich pocket of the country.

On the first day I met up with my godfather, David – a veteran ‘birder’ and career architect who actually designed the visitor centre at RSPB Minsmere. The weather was stunning with temperatures reaching 27°C, which could have been overwhelming given the size of my camera rucksack and telephoto lens, however the gentle to moderate sea breeze helped to keep us both on the pleasantly warm side of hot.

The wonder of warblers

The reed beds that cover a large portion of the reserve are oozing with the joyful soliloquies of warblers. Over the course of the 2 days, I/we spotted Reed, Sedge, Cetti’s and Dartford Warblers. I wasn’t expecting to see the Dartford Warbler, but to my surprise there was a small area of gorse heathland, which is a preferred habitat for the elusive Darty, now a red-listed protected species in the UK.

Below are some pictures I took of the Reed and Sedge warblers.


A wonderful first time experience for me was spotting several pairs of Linnets. They are lovely birds and the males have a subtle pinkish breast, which is brighter during the breeding season. These Linnets were flying between the tops of branches amidst gorse and other heathland flora, descending into the safety of the undergrowth as soon as I got within shooting range. I had the joy of ‘settling’ for a 10-15 minute musical serenade as this male Linnet sheltered beneath the heat of the noon-day sun. My patience was rewarded with this beautiful photograph.


The bird I was most looking forward to seeing was the Avocet, most well known for being represented in the RSPB logo.

final thoughts

I left RSPB Minsmere after 2 days of exploring what I discovered to be only a small sector of the entire reserve. I shall definitely be returning to this beautiful sanctuary of birdlife, but for now I’ll leave you with a few more pictures.

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About the Author

About me

Jonathan Smithies is a British wildlife photographer currently living in Bristol. He has a passion for photographing birds and enjoys travelling throughout the UK and abroad.