The grazing marshes remained until 1940, when Minsmere beach (above) was identified as an easy landing area for German invaders. Concrete blocks were lined up along the spit to keep out tanks (right), mines were laid, and barbed wire was stretched along the beach. The hamlet by the main sluice gate was evacuated and used by the RAF for target practice; grazing marshes were flooded.
The RSPB bought Minsmere in 1977, building it up to its present 2500 acres. The Scrape was enthusiastically admired and imitated by conservationists as far away as Japan, but many local people regarded Minsmere as somewhere where they were not welcome, and it was feared that increased visitor numbers would effect rare breeding species. Eventually public consultations were held about how to make the reserve attractive to locals. From 2014-16 Springwatch was filmed at Minsmere for three years, causing a massive spike in visitor numbers and public profile. On recent evenings flocks of people, not all regular birdwatchers, have convened to see murmurations of up to 40,000 starlings. Interestingly numbers of rare breeding species have risen incrementally with the number of visitors, which is now around 120,000 per year; I wonder what Bert Axell would have thought.