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29 October 2014

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August 2003
Restoration - Minsmere RSPB reserve
Image: Avocet bird - copyright Chris Gomersall.
Image: Avocet bird - © Chris Gomersall
It is not only buildings that can be restored.
At Minsmere, the world famous RSPB reserve on the suffolk coast, landscapes are being restored.
audio Listen: Lesley Dolphin speaks to Geoff Welch, manager of Minsmere {audio} (28k)
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Listen: Lesley Dolphin speaks to Geoff Welch, manager of Minsmere

Over the next year BBC Radio Suffolk presenter Lesley Dolphin will be visiting the reserve to hear about the work that goes on behind the scenes.

During her first visit at the end of July she met manager Geoff Welch who's been at Minsmere for the past 11 years.

The RSPB first signed a lease for around 1500 acres of land at Minsmere from the Ogilive family.
It was not until 1977 that they became the owners - since then they have added to it and now it covers just under 2400 acres. It is made up of woodland, the coastal area and scrape, and the wetlands with marshland and reedbeds.

Nature reserves have to be managed, the landscape is constantly changing and trying to revert to woodland.

When Geoff first arrived at Minsmere the reedbeds, which are the third largest in the country, were virtually dry and the number of Bitterns nesting had dropped to only one pair.

Image: Bitter bird - copyright Chris Gomersall.
Image: Bittern bird - © Chris Gomersall

The only way to restore the area was to raise the water level or drop the land level and as the former was not possible they embarked on a 4 year plan using huge diggers to restore the wetland by scraping off the surface of the reedbeds.

It was so successful that the number of bitterns has risen from the one pair 10 or 11 years ago to 8 booming males this year, and 8 - 10 nesting females.

The changes have benefitted many other species of bird and wildlife as well including ducks, water rails, otters and water voles.

Image:  Minsmere - copyright RSPB.
Image: Minsmere - © RSPB

In 2002 a new Bittern Hide was built overlooking the wetlands on the site of what was probably the very first ever purpose built bird hide in the world.

Minsmere has always led the way with their work on the landscape. The first warden there in 1959, Bert Axel had a dream of creating an area perfect for birdlife, at the same time as being accessible to the public.

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e.g. Tom, Ipswich
Very interesting thanks. I am a believer of ghosts, however it is clear that the pic of the wall and mysterious white shape on the right is clearly. Its obviouos to me this is fabric. I find it hard to imagine that u people cannot see this.

Phil Bungay
Most if not all ghost walks are a joke. I have been on some and as always, somewhere along the line something fake happens. I have had the experience of seeing a real ghost in my house.

Darren, Ipswich
The 'strange' item on the Priory wall photograph looks like a very spooky camera strap that has fallen in front of the lens and been overexposed by the amount of light falling on it from the flash...

Chris, Cambridge
Just how rare are great crested newts - every road construction project seems to find a colony!

Oskar, U.S.A.
I'm glad you are protecting amphibians. Most people have only heard of these newts in the pet trade.

amy, framlingham
I visited christchurch mansion yesterday, it is gorgeous inside but i could sense a spooky atmosphere!

Karen, Southminster
I would Just like to congratulate you all!For me, the re-establishment of any rare breed of animal is important, but that you have managed it with this absolutely gorgeous looking and natured, amazingly rare breed of horse is doubly so!Well done!!!

Linda. Wickham Market
I think these pictures are stunning and very varied. I hope we see a lot more of her work.

gemma ,harrow
i congratulate you and wish you well in the repopulation of one of britians best breeds

carol davies west midlands
i would like to thank you people for what you are doing if there is any thing i can do to help please let me know i am 60 years of age but i will help has much has i can GOD BLESS YOU ALL

hannah frany
arh cute cute cute

i have ghost pic of child very clear at the old smyth seeddrill site

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