'Yawning' adders and booming bitterns: A volunteer's view of RSPB Minsmere in Suffolk

  • Rob Setchell spent a day with volunteers at RSPB Minsmere.

It was a wet and miserable Saturday morning when it happened. Steve Everett was sat in the hide by himself, preparing to pack the camera away and admit defeat.

But then came the unmistakable flash of feathers. The glimmer of streaky-brown plumage the 57-year-old had spent so many hours combing the horizon for.

A male bittern who, much to Steve's delight, had decided now was the time to slowly skulk from the reeds of RSPB Minsmere, in Suffolk, and put on a show.

  • Steve Everett captured this video of a bittern booming at RSPB Minsmere.

"He just walked out in front of the hide and started booming," said Steve, who has been volunteering at Minsmere for almost a decade.

"A bittern booming right in front of the hide is absolute gold-dust."

Capturing such "gold-dust" on camera takes time, knowledge, patience - and a humongous lens.

RSPB volunteer Steve Everett. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Steve spends three days a week at Minsmere in the spring, enjoying the sights and sounds of the reserve and taking thousands of pictures.

He helps guide and inform many of the 80,000 visitors the reserve attracts every year.

Steve said: "You get to this time of the year and, all of a sudden, you start getting the gulls coming back and they start arguing.

"You've got the sand martins flying around overheard all talking to each other.

"You go through the woodland in the morning and you get all the bird song, the woodpeckers drumming in the trees.

"It's just lovely how everything suddenly wakes up."

  • At a glance: Some of Steve's favourite shots from RSPB Minsmere.

Since retiring from his desk job with BT, Steve has started spending more of his time watching and waiting for the nature reserve to reveal its secrets.

His knowledge of the birds and their behaviour has steadily increased - although you might not find the identification criteria he uses in every bird-watching handbook.

He reckons Mediterranean Geese are easily spotted "because they sound like Kenneth Williams" and he refers to reed buntings as "flying vicars" due to the white collars around their necks.

His favourite adder is called Rylan - named after presenter and former X-Factor contestant Rylan Clark because of his "lovely white teeth".

"You can sit in the hide and there might be nobody else about because it's such a miserable day," he said.

"Then, all of a sudden, a bearded tit will pop up on the reeds right in front of the hide, sit there and look at you.

"Things like that, those sorts of experiences, you just don't forget. They're so magical."

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