Sunday, 22 December 2013

Rye Meads - 20th December 13

Weather: Sunny, blue skies, with slight Breeze.

Birds Total: 39

It was time for this month's visit to RM. And today was nice, bright and sunny with a light wind and not too cold. There weren't too many people about, I only saw about half-a-dozen all day.

The first thing I noticed was that an awful lot had been done to the Reserve. I had read in recent weeks that the staff and volunteers were out and about cutting this and chopping that. Lots of trees, bushes and reeds had gone and another lagoon had been created just before you get to the twin Hides.

It was a quiet day today, with not too many birds about, other than wildfowl. I didn't see any flocks of passerines at all, other than on the feeders by the visitor centre.

It was that sort of day!
My first stop was by the first bridge, overlooking the Meadow. I could see a few Pheasants; a Grey Heron and a Kestrel, which was perched on one of the goalposts.

I moved on to the Draper Hide. The area outside the Hide had been worked on extensively, mostly on the left side of the lagoon. The water level was very high, swamping everything. And there wasn't much about either. Mainly Coots and Moorhens; Mute Swans; a Little Grebe and a lone Stock Dove sat atop of one of the Owl boxes. I didn't spend too much time here and moved on.

Further along the trail there were more Pheasants; a Dunnock and a Chaffinch feeding on the ground and a lone Redwing. When I looked out over the first lagoon I could see Pochard; Shoveler and another Grey Heron. A quick look from the Ashby Hide only yielded Coot and Moorhen but I did hear a Cetti's Warbler sing out.

Then I found myself looking out over the newly created lagoon which, again, only had Coot and Moorhen around. I could see the recently created debris around the area too, mainly branches, logs etc.

I then sat down in the renamed Gadwall Hide, formerly the Tern Hide. RM had decided to swap names as the Terns over the years had decided to nest down outside the Gadwall Hide. This was by far the best lagoon for birds today, as the place was teeming with lots of species.

First up, I counted over 400 Lapwing spread out around the lagoon, every 15 minutes or so being put up. Together with all the BHGs it was quite a sight. On top of that there were 9 Common Snipe; 1 Green Sandpiper; 1 Pied Wagtail; another Grey Heron; lots of Teal and Shoveler and the obligatory Coot and Moorhen. There was even a fly-past by a Sparrowhawk, which, again, put up all the Lapwing. Then a Shelduck flew in and started feeding. I haven't seen Shelduck around here since June. Little Grebe and Starlings were present and then a lone Goldfinch flew in and started feeding on one of the teasel plants in front of the Hide.

I hung around for over an hour here as I suspected that this would be the highlight of the day. After a quick visit to the Tern Hide, which only yielded Mutes and Coots and BHGs, together with a few Tufties, I went straight to the Kingfisher Hide where I saw a lone Coot; a juvenile Moorhen; a pair of Mallards; 2 pairs of Gadwall and a pair of Blackbirds, who were feeding on the red berries to my left. But the star birds here were a pair of Jays just to the right of the Kingfisher nesting area. Unfortunately, they were a bit too shy and didn't venture too close.

I took a slow, uneventful walk down to the Warbler Hide which was also uneventful and had lunch. And the only extra thing to add on the return route was a 2nd Shelduck seen from the Gadwall Hide.

Back at the feeders lots of Greats and Blues were still about, plus Goldfinch and LTTs. As I was stood watching these I heard, then saw, a GSW fly past. Home before 3, it was good to get out again. If the weather stays dry I might get one more visit before the end of the year.