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It was like déjà vu all over again! (to quote from the great baseball commentator Yogi Berra). Lost on narrowing country lanes and no reception on my phone. Just as I was starting to give up all hope a brown RSPB sign appeared and with it the prospect of not being late for my meeting. And then another long period of hopelessness until I bounced over the first of many speed bumps and remembered I do this every time I come to Minsmere. The angst of being hopelessly lost is quickly replaced by relief and then excitement.

RSPB Minsmere is a wonderful nature reserve on the north Suffolk coast. This is one of my favourite places, and that’s probably because it’s not the easiest to find! I first came here as a child, and have visited many times since, more recently with my own children.

Today my visit is strictly professional; I’m doing a couple of events here during the October half term. I need to check out the facilities and discuss what we’re going to do. Probably a short talk, a jewellery making demonstration and a discussion about the work I’ve been doing with the RSPB. I’ve made a series of pieces featuring endangered species which we’re going to sell, and in the process raise a bit of money and lots of awareness about the wonderful work the RSPB does.

First things first; 1) Does the card machine work here. (Clearly not. Suffolk is not great for mobile phone reception). 2) Is the venue suitable. (Yes, it’s fantastic). We’ll have to find a way round the card machine problem because the event is going to be fun. A nice little talk and demonstration from me, then a tour of this wonderful reserve by an expert guide. So I thought I ought to meet one of these experts for myself, which was where my day turned even more delightful.

The fascinating and generous Matt (would you believe his surname is Parrot!) led me out into the reserve. As we watched sand martins diving and swooping around their nests in a sandy cliff Matt asked me if I had any particular favourites. I’ve always wanted to see a Bittern I said, but I also have a soft spot for bees. Off a sandy track we found a series of small holes in the ground. These are the burrows of Beewolves and Weevil Wasps and the spectacular Pantaloon Bee. I crouched for ages as Matt chatted away about all the bizarre goings on; carnivorous wasps and the rather sweet pantaloons bees doing a bit of housework sweeping up around the entrance to their burrows. I even managed to get a few snaps on my phone!

I could have stayed with the bees for ages but we had birds to see too, so off we went to the Bittern hide and right on demand a bittern swooped in and landed in the reeds. Brilliant. To cap it all three marsh harriers put on a great display while I chatted away to all the birdwatchers.

What a brilliant day. Thank you RSPB. I can’t wait to come back!

More details on Alex’s events at RSPB Minsmere on 29th October to be announced soon. Keep your eyes peeled for an exclusive interview with Alex in the RSPB magazine and be sure to sign up for our newsletter to be the first to see the exclusives RSPB pieces!

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