I was desperate to rise earlier after the previous day's fight for a seat in the Island Mere Hide but it's a real struggle to balance relaxing on a holiday to wanting every moment not to be wasted, especially as the earlier really is the better when trying to grab those extra special moments. It's when the natural world is usually more accommodating. Certainly when it comes to Birds and Mammals.
And so it came to pass, by the time I got my ass moving I was to arrive around the same time as yesterday. 6.30am. Not too shabby but what had I missed already I thought?
I noticed some regulars here from yesterday. One chap was monitoring the Otter populations as he does all year round and two others were on holiday. One was dressed head to toe in camouflage gear, always strange when all you do is sit in a hide. The other chap was from Essex and very approachable. He showed me a photo he took at 5.15am of a mother and two Otter cubs just outside the window where we were sat. This inspired me to rise from my pit tomorrow just a tad earlier than I had done the previous two days.
On the opposite side of the pool the sound of a loud Grasshopper could be heard. This was no insect but a bird. Usually this would signify a Grasshopper Warbler which do breed here in very small numbers but this was an even rarer Savis Warbler which do not. Although they may be starting to colonize this country as small numbers have been seen on regular occasions with single males staying here for the season.
It was difficult to pinpoint but they do have a penchant for rising up on a dedicated perch to sing then dropping down when they finish.
It was pointed out to me in a small tree on the waters edge. It's song is almost identical to that of a Grasshopper Warbler but slightly lower toned. The bird itself is different in plumage too.
It takes patience and good focusing to pick out these tiny critters.
I left and headed to the Bittern Hide with hope of some success in my quest.
The previously reticent Lesser Whitethroat was more available today albeit still cautious at my presence.
Apart from that, another quiet calm time.
The North Wall and Dunwich Heath to the North of the reserve was calling me today. Common Whitethroats had the centre ground along the path towards the heathland and called out their territories.
Four Spotted Chasers, the most common species at this time of the year, pervaded.
I kept seeing Dragonflies buzzing down the tracks through the trees and it took a while to get on them while they rested.
They were Hairy Dragonflies. This one being a male and as it's name suggests, has fine hair along it's abdomen and thorax.
It was so warm even the rabbits took shelter during the heat of the day.
As the path skirts the bottom of the hill by the hide, I could see a Green Woodpecker feeding in the grass but some people walked passed me and disturbed it even though they could see I was looking at something. So it flew off but I did manage a couple of departing shots.
I decided to leave early but not before one last stop off. I had been given a tip off by the chap in the hide from this morning. He told me of a rare breeding bird just around the corner to the reserve. One I had always wanted to see but can be extremely difficult to locate. Either trying to find a breeding area or even if you find the area, it's so well camouflaged it can be hard to pinpoint it.
This sounded as though it was a foregone conclusion but I've heard all about that in the past.
As luck would have it for a change, there was a Stone Curlew right in front of me.
It's normally more active at night, hence the large eyes, but this was walking around feeding.
I left them in peace and headed back to the campsite for food, shower and an early night.
Kevin's wife Jenni came over and introduced herself. She gave me more information on the area and how they ended up in this stunning little corner of Saxmundham. She was so welcoming and made me feel right at ease as Kevin had done the previous day.
At last, I managed to drag myself from the pit an hour earlier than the past two days.
I was up at 4am and out by 5am.
As I rounded the last bend into the road leading to the reserve, the Deer scenario raised it's head from the first day. This time a Doe and her fawn were ambling through the woodland. I had my camera to hand as before. These were Muntjac. The fawn stopped to look at me as the Doe walked on.
A little overcast and slightly breezier than before, the Marsh Harriers were the first to show their hand.
Then, suddenly, a slight breakthrough. I was talking to the guy from Essex about a shot I had taken when I noticed his attention was drawn to something outside the window. Rather than him say what he saw, he raised his lens , took a couple of shots, then shouted, 'Otter!' By the time I had turned, I saw the mammal slip into the water from the edge of the reeds before I could get on it.
We stood hoping it might show itself again or at least show signs it was still around but Otters are the most surreptitious of species. They can vanish without a ripple and so it did. He showed me his shot of the master of the river in full frame. I couldn't complain, I'd seen a live Otter, albeit briefly, my first in the wild and I hope never the last.
Whatever the reasons, they decided to keep well out of the way from a decent photographic opportunity.
A quick refuel at the visitor centre for coffee and veggie breakfast, I set off for Westerton just down the road and a return to the Stone Curlews.
I found the adult out feeding in the field. So much for it being a nocturnal feeder?
I was so lucky to see these weird birds and they made up for the lack of Bittern and Otter action tenfold.
It was here that I spoke to a retired chap who happened to be an expert on insects. Namely hoverflies. He was fascinating to listen to and answered a couple of questions I had. One was when I had seen a male hoverfly buzzing just above a female. This is a courting ritual apparently.
This gave commanding views across the reed beds and over to the Bittern Hide raised above them.
I could easily do with another few days here but I had three more booked for North Norfolk instead.
I wandered along to the Island Mere Hide as a final swansong.
I realised that the old platform sat on the hillside once formed part of the Springwatch hut (now demolished). No wonder they had planted it there. The views across the marsh are quite spectacular and gave me my first impressions of this idyll two days ago.
The local Hares didn't let me down.