Saturday, 7 September 2013

Rye Meads - 5th September 13

Weather: Very hot. Clear skies with a light breeze.

Birds Total: 41
Plus: Comma, Common Blue, Green-veined White, Large White, Small White, Speckled Wood Butterflies.
Plus: Common Blue damselfly. Brown Hawker, Migrant Hawker dragonflies.
Plus: Rudd; Water Buffalo with three calves; Water Vole; various Bees, Hoverflies, Spiders and Wasps.

Today was quite possibly the last good day of summer. Tomorrow and the weekend is forecast for rain and bad weather. So I hauled myself out to make the most of it. And after yesterday's long day at Rainham I figured that RM would probably be a good choice, as I could always sit in the Hides.

But first, I wanted to see if I could see and photograph the Water Voles again. I hung around the walkway pond area for about 30 minutes or so. Whilst waiting I took a look out over the meadow and I could see that there were now 3 Water Buffalo calves out there. There were also 4 Grey Herons; a pair of male Pheasants and I could hear Blackcaps and Dunnocks singing around the area.

Whilst waiting for the Ratty show I became fascinated by a pair of Cross Spiders. A small male was tentatively and cautiously approaching the much larger female. As he got close he started caressing her gently with his front two legs. When he deemed that she was calm and receptive he climbed aboard and did the business, before racing off to a safe part of the web. I watched him do this at least 3 times. People passed by and asked if I was watching a Vole and when I explained what I was looking at they just smiled and walked on.

There were also volunteer work details walking back and forth. And by now the hot sun had burned off the last of the misty fog and it was starting to get very hot. But before it did I photographed a spiders web covered in droplets from overnight. Then, over the meadow, all the BHGs and Pigeons took to the air. I scanned the sky and found the culprit, a Buzzard which gracefully soared overhead.

Then, finally, I heard a rustle of the reeds and spotted a Water Vole which had jumped up onto a little wooden platform to finish off an apple. It then swam through the reeds and disappeared under the bridge. A few minutes later another turned up and started feeding on the greenery. A third appeared soon after. At last I was getting some Vole action.

People continued to pass by, some of which saw the Voles. One guy thought he had seen the Marsh Harrier, that had been seen recently, over the meadow but I pointed out that it was, in fact, a Grey Heron. A couple of women then walked up and one of them said that she could see a Little Egret, which was again the Grey Heron. In fact, when I visited some of the Hides I found a few entries on the sightings boards that I thought were a bit tongue in cheek. Not that I think that they are telling porkies but it does mess up the bird lists.

I headed off down the trail and found that the Draper Hide was closed for a paint job. So I paid a visit to the Ashby Hide. There wasn't too much about because the reeds were quite abundant. But there were a pair of Reed Warblers flitting around, busily feeding up before the long flight back and a Little Grebe was on the lake.

The obligatory Migrant Hawker photo
There were a few more butterflies on the trails here, a few more than I found in Fishers Green the other day. Comma; lots of Whites and Speckled Woods being the most obvious.

I paid a couple of visits to the Twin Hides, seeing 8 Green Sandpipers; 7 Snipe; 12 or so Lapwing; another few Grey Herons; a lone Common Tern and some Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler. The Kingfishers were absent from the KF Hide and nobody is sure of what is happening with the 3rd brood. My feeling is that it has failed for some unknown reason and we have probably seen the last of them for now. There wasn't much else about other than Blackcaps.

There wasn't anything of note on the walk down to the Warbler Hide and back. I checked the twin hides again but there was nothing else to add to the list. I was keen to see if the recently reported pair of Ruddy Shelduck were still about. One of the guys I spoke to in the KF Hide said that he had seen them earlier over the forbidden lake. When I arrived and looked out over the lake I could only see the usual, Mutes and Coots, ducks and geese. But I hung around for a few minutes and my patience paid off as the pair of them swam into view, not far from me. They must be escapees but I was pleased to see them anyway.

Ruddy Shelduck
I found that they had re-opened the Draper Hide but there were only a pair Grey Herons having a dispute out on the scrape plus a lone Little Egret which soon flew off. Not much else was around so I decided to try my luck with the Water Voles again. And I was again lucky with a few more good views after only about 10 minutes waiting.

A few people again walked by plus a very noisy woman with an even more noisy little girl dragging a pushchair. I guessed that the Voles would hunker down after that so I headed home.

Another nice day in the sunshine.