Saturday, 28 September 2013

Rye Meads - 20th September 13

Weather: Mainly cloudy, some sunshine.

Birds Total: 39
Plus: Comma, Large White, Small White, Speckled Wood Butterflies.
Plus: Common Blue damselfly. Brown Hawker, Common Darter, Migrant Hawker dragonflies.
Plus: Fox; Konik Pony; Water Buffalo; Shield Bugs; Spotted Crane Fly; Wasp Beetle; various Bees, Hoverflies, Spiders and Wasps.

I decided to visit RM today as it was forecast to be sunny and warm. As it turned out it was cloudy for most of the day. And, after Norfolk, I didn't want too exhausting a day.

I didn't expect to see very much today but I was delighted to see that, right at the start of the morning, finally, there was some Shield Bug action this year. Plenty of Dock Bugs were around, with a lone Green Shield Bug and a lone Forest Bug, all found on the bushes around the first pond. There were plenty of other insects there too, as well as lots of spiders. It was a great chance to practice with my new macro lens. Unfortunately my hand was bitten by midges several times whilst getting the shots.

And all around me I could hear Chiffchaff and Dunnock singing and calling. Robins were sounding off their tic alarm calls, probably because of me.

I moved on and arrived at the walkway to look for any Water Voles. It was a little difficult at first because a lot of the Reserve volunteers were walking back and forth, chattering away. So I looked out over the HMWT meadow where I could see that they had re-introduced the Konik ponies. They had also removed the Water Buffalo calves. I could see 6 hen Pheasants walking along one of the reed channels. After about 30 minutes there was no sign of any Voles so I moved onto the Draper Hide.

There wasn't too much about here other than the resident Little Grebe with a pair of Grebelets, squeaking away, begging for food. There were lots of Gadwall and Coot about; Shoveler and Teal were present and a lone Grey Heron could be seen at the edge of the reeds. The light was quite poor unfortunately so photo opportunities weren't favourable. Just then another guy entered who I have met before. The usual birding stories were swapped before he moved on.

I headed off down the trail, arriving at the first lagoon to look for the recent Ruddy Shelduck, but they weren't about today. Only Coots and Mutes and ducks were about. I bypassed the Ashby Hide and, further along the trail, high up on the pylon, I could hear and see about 30-40 Starlings clicking and whistling away.

I then found myself sat inside the Tern Hide where loads of Common Snipe had been recently reported. My first sweep around the lagoon elicited 71 of them, all spread out around all the little islets and islands. I could also see 3 Green Sandpipers; plenty of Shoveler; Teal and Wigeon in amongst all the Gadwall and Coot. The odd Mallard and Moorhen were also about. Another Grey Heron could be seen out to the right.

People came and went, all enquiring after the Snipe and all as amazed as I was about the large numbers. A GSW flew past the Hide from right to left, uttering its familiar 'chick' call. There were also about 20 Lapwing out there, some doing their displaying flights. The Sandpiper count then rose to 5, whilst my second Snipe count rose to 77. 2 of the Sandpipers then flew in close to the Hide but they flew off again only allowing me a single shot. A Cetti's Warbler sounded off just outside the Hide to the left and I saw it fly between bushes. My third count of Snipe then yielded 87! And then, just before I left, a Sparrowhawk flew in front of us, from right to left, scattering a few birds.

A quick visit to the Gadwall Hide yielded not a lot. Walking on down the trail I could see that, because the sun was starting to poke through the clouds, Migrant Hawkers were starting to appear. Common Darters were also about, rising and landing on the trail in front of me. A Jay flew overhead, just before I arrived at the Kingfisher Hide.

I only spent about 20 minutes here as there wasn't a great deal of action. The Kingfishers weren't about and it has now sadly been confirmed that the 3rd brood has failed, reason unknown. Out on the pond there were only Coots; Moorhens and Gadwall floating around. Several Migrant Hawkers were flying about, hovering away as they do, one of which landed on the stick in front of the Hide. A lone Brown Hawker was also present. Then I witnessed something I had never seen before. One of the juvenile Moorhens rushed over and caught, drowned and then ate one of the resting Migrant Hawkers. All in a few seconds before I could bring my camera to bear. Amazing.

I moved off towards the Warbler Hide. On the way I spotted a pair of mating Migrants fly in and land on a reed just in front of me. Then the male flew off and left the female on the reed. A few minutes later I spotted another pair. Cetti's and Blackcap could be heard. And then, yet another pair of mating Migrants were seen. And then a fourth pair flew past, wings noisily flapping against each other, being chased by males, hoping to butt in. And, seemingly not to be left out, a pair of Common Darters also flew by in tandem.

Now that the sun was out a bit more, the clouds retreating, a few butterflies were also venturing out. Mainly Whites but also a few Speckled Woods and the odd Comma. Then I spotted a lone Common Blue damselfly in its drab form fly by and settle on a leaf. Another example of the wet spring, as they should have disappeared by now. A female Migrant could be seen ovipositing near the stream, laying eggs every few seconds.

I finally arrived at the Warbler Hide and settled in for lunch. There wasn't much about at first other than a lone Sedge Warbler. A Grey Heron circled over the Meadow before landing far out to the right. I was about to leave when I spotted a Marsh Harrier over the far trees, just above the horizon, being mobbed by several crows. It didn't return. And, just as I had left the Hide, along the walkway, I spotted about 25 Snipe take off from the meadow and circle a few times before landing back down, in amongst the reeds. It was quite a sight, reminding me of the flocks at Snettisham earlier in the week.

Walking back along the trail I witnessed more dragon action and, bypassing the KF Hide, I found myself back in the Tern Hide. The only differences here was a very good view of a Water Rail out to the left, walking along the muddy bank, every now and then venturing out in to the open and noticing that there were only a few Snipe left out on the lake.

I moved on and got to the stairs by the Ashby Hide where I witnessed a flock of LTTs fly by, Great and Blue Tits amongst them as well as a lone Chiffchaff. From the Draper Hide I spotted a lone Snipe otherwise it was business as usual.

The light was again failing reminding me that time was getting on so I headed back towards the visitor centre. No Voles and only a couple of Bugs were seen.

It was a surprisingly good day out, witnessing a couple of things I had never seen before. I returned home before 6 despite a delay on the trains caused by a Fox running up the track.