Thursday, 27 March 2014

Rye Meads - 24th March 14

Weather: Sunny, warm blue skies in the morning, overcast with a cold breeze in the afternoon.

Bird Total: 44
Plus: Fox; Grey Squirrel and Muntjac.
Plus: 7-spot Ladybird; Small Tortoiseshell butterfly.

It's been a while since I visited RM, mainly because there hadn't been a lot happening there recently and also because there had been a lot happening elsewhere. But today I decided that a another visit was long overdue.

One of the disadvantages of RM is that it is only open between 10 and 5 but it does has the advantage of the absence of dog-walkers; cyclists and joggers.

Today was forecast for sunshine with some cloud. It started out sunny and warm but deteriorated in the afternoon, clouding over with a cold breeze. Still, I was able to at least shed my rain-proof jacket.

Nothing to report on the way down and nothing to report until I got to the walkway overlooking the HMWT meadow, where I could see a Grey Heron and a pair of Little Egrets, amongst a few Canada Geese; Shoveler and Coot. I could hear Cetti's Warblers; Chiffchaff and a Song Thrush all around me as I strolled down the trail. About half-a-dozen people passed me by, most of which seemed to be heading straight for the Kingfisher Hide.

But a few of them had stopped off at the Draper Hide. Just before I entered I spotted my first ladybird of the year, a 7-spot. A lot of work had been done on and around the lagoon area. The 'Scrape' area had been enlarged and a new Kingfisher sandbank had been created. Work is obviously ongoing but the area looks promising. Unfortunately, there weren't too many birds on show out on the lagoon. Other than the usual Coots and Mutes; Moorhen and Geese, I could see a pair of Lapwing; 2 pairs of Stock Doves, one pair using one of the Owl boxes; the resident pair of Little Grebes, swimming past the Hide every few minutes, uttering their characteristic 'whinnying' call; there were 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls in amongst 30-odd Black-headed Gulls; several Teal and a few Shoveler. A Muntjac could be seen in the far corner feeding.

I moved on after 20 minutes and found a lone Small Tortoiseshell butterfly on the trail. And, on the new lagoon on my left, opposite the twin hides, I could see a pair of Redshank feeding. I visited the Gadwall Hide first and eventually saw a Buzzard fly over; a Kestrel hovering to my left; a lone Snipe in amongst the reeds out to the right, which was surrounded by several Teal and Shoveler; a lone Shelduck continuously dipping its' head down feeding and 5 Lapwing scattered around the area.

From the Tern Hide it was mostly BHG City and a noisy one at that, either on the Rafts or circling overhead, a few pairs of which were displaying their wings in courtship. A few Coot and Tufties were swimming around the outskirts, probably trying not to be too deafened. I couldn't stand the racket either and moved on down the trail towards the Kingfisher Hide. More Cetti's and Chiffchaffs could be heard singing away. Unfortunately, I didn't spot any all day.

When I arrived at the KF Hide I found about 5 or 6 other people already there, some with large lens and clutching remote controls, bending forward in anticipation. The female Kingfisher was already in view, sat on a branch just outside the nest area. Over the course of the next hour both Kingfishers put on a pretty good display, culminating in a couple of matings. Not to be outdone a pair of Mallards got together as well. A pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers flew in to a tree behind the Kingfisher bank and chased each other around the tree bark. Then a Kestrel flew in and landed on the higher box on the pylon. Out on the pond the resident pair of Coot were swimming around, occasionally pestering the Moorhens; Gadwall and Mallards. All this action had made me hungry and so I broke for lunch.

I then decided to take a walk down to the Warbler Hide. On the way down, high above me, I could see a Grey Heron being harassed a few BHGs. And, from the Hide, I could see a Buzzard being buzzed by a Crow. To my far right I could see probably the same pair of Little Egrets out on the meadow. Every few minutes a Lapwing would fly over and land in the meadow and, just before I left, another Grey Heron flew in from right to left and landed at the back.

With nothing else happening I walked back to the Kingfisher Hide and was again rewarded with some great KF action. At one stage the female was almost caught by a Grey Squirrel. Another GSW appeared briefly while another Muntjac was sat directly opposite lazing in the sunshine.

Time was getting on and it had started to cloud over. The cold breeze was also a deciding factor. So I walked back down the trail, stopping off at the twin hides. The only addition to the list here was a lone Starling. The Redshank were still in the same place and still feeding.

Back at the Draper the only additions were a pair of Pied Wagtails on the scrape and a Fox who was asleep out to the right. A pair of Gadwall and one of the Little Grebes gave me a close up view as they swam by, peering warily up at me every few seconds.

It was a nice day out in the sunshine, especially in the morning, but I probably won't visit again until the first Kingfisher brood are about to fledge, which will probably be in May.

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