Friday, 18 April 2014

Rye Meads - 14th April 14

Weather: Mixture of sun and clouds. Cold breeze.

Birds Total: 46
Plus: Common Blue, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Peacock butterflies. Bee-fly.

I had intended to visit Fishers Green today, but a couple of things made me decide to head for RM instead. Not the least of which was that a pair of Garganey had arrived on the Reserve.

It was forecast to be a bright sunny day, with a few clouds. It was sunny, but there were clouds aplenty, with quite a cold breeze. Good enough to dress down but not enough to persuade me to use sun block.

Whilst waiting for the train down I spotted what was probably the same Sparrowhawk swooping over, this time a lot lower and a lot closer. I could also hear the call of a lone Long-tailed Tit in the trees behind me.

I soon found myself on the boardwalk adjacent to the HMWT meadow. Looking out all I could see was a fleeting glimpse of a Little Egret and a pair of Lapwings. There were plenty of birds singing - mainly Cetti's Warbler, but I could also hear Wren; Robin; Blackcap and Chiffchaff. Although they remained stubbornly hidden from view.

Looking out from the Draper Hide there didn't seem to be too much about at first. But scanning from right to left I soon spotted 3 Snipe; 3 Lapwing; 3 Shelduck; a pair of Teal and, best of all, a pair of summer-plumaged Black-tailed Godwits. They were all surrounded by lots of Black-headed Gulls; Coots; Moorhen; Gadwall and Canada Geese. A lone Little Grebe swam past right in front of the Hide. There were also 2 pairs of Stock Doves around, a pair of which were still using one of the Owl Boxes. I guess the owls aren't too bothered.

A few people came and went, including some happy families. I hung around a bit hoping to get better views of the BlackWits. Eventually the BHGs were put up, possibly by an aircraft overhead and this sent up the BlackWits as well. They all landed back down with the BlackWits landing a little closer to the Hide, giving much better views. They looked fantastic in their summer plumage. But they were being spooked every now and then by Lapwings and Moorhens.

Although the Scrape looked much more extensive than before, a lot of work had obviously been done, the water levels were still quite high. The vegetation also needs to grow back a little bit more. The new Kingfisher hotel looks to be nearly finished but no one looks to have checked in yet.

On the trail more birds were joining the sing-a-long. I could hear my first Sedge Warbler mixed in with Cetti's and Blackcap. I reached the area where the twin hides were and looked out over the lagoon opposite. This was where the Garganey had been reported. A few other people were also there and we all scanned, fruitlessly, for the birds. All I could see were a few Pochard; Coot and a female Mallard, who had at least 4 little ducklings with her.

I checked into the Gadwall Hide but found the water level here even higher than at the Draper. Only Gulls and Ducks; Coots and Geese were around. A pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were in amongst the BHGs. From the Tern Hide it was pretty much the same, with Tufted Duck; Coot; Gadwall being outnumbered by BHGs, who were all vying for position on the Tern rafts. A lone Little Grebe was the only other bird in view.

I had another look out over the lagoon again and this time I spotted the Garganey. They were half-hidden in amongst the reeds at the back, both asleep. But the male was very recognisable, his broad white stripe above and behind the eye giving him away.

Butterflies had started to appear, especially when the wind dropped. Mainly Peacocks and Orange Tips, but I did see at least one Green-veined White and a Common Blue. I spotted yet another Bee-fly, just before I arrived at the Warbler Hide.

But before that I visited the Kingfisher Hide. I spent about an hour here, in company with about half-a-dozen other people. Between us we spotted a pair of mating Great Spotted Woodpeckers; a delightfully posing Wren; a male Blackcap; a fly-by Kestrel and a female Reed Bunting. The resident pair of Kingfishers eventually made an appearance, on the nearby posts. The first batch of eggs had been laid so it won't be long before the feeding frenzy starts up.

On the trail down to the Warbler Hide, apart from the Bee-fly, I could hear and see Long-tailed Tits; more Blackcaps including at least one female and more singing Chiffchaffs.

There wasn't much to see at first from the Hide itself. A lone male Reed Bunting was balancing on the reeds. The Lapwing were still flying around the meadow, as was the Little Egret and there was a Coot sitting on a nest in front of the Hide. A little later I started to hear more Sedge Warblers, joined by a few Reed Warblers. Then I spotted a Kestrel fly over, which was soon joined by a second. As I was looking at them I could see a Buzzard in the background. Also flying past, in the distance, were lots of Sand Martins. Then a pair of Grey Herons flew over, from right to left.

I started on the return journey, seeing another Sedge Warbler and then another Blackcap. Nothing much else to report other than another 3 Shelduck from the Gadwall Hide. The Garganey hadn't moved an inch since I last saw them and I eventually ended up at the Draper Hide to see if the BlackWits would get any closer. They didn't, so I called it a day.

It was a good decision to come down to RM, because of the Garganey, but the BlackWits were a bonus. The only downer were the trains, bad journeys in both directions.