Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Rye Meads - 30th April 14

Weather: Mixture of sun and clouds.

Birds Total: 46
Plus: Brimstone, Green-veined White, Large White, Orange Tip, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood butterflies.
Plus: Blue-tailed, Large Red Damselflies.
Plus: 2-Spot, 7-Spot and 16-Spot Ladybirds; Caddis Fly; Cardinal Beetle; Flesh Fly; Hoverfly; Mint Moth; Nettle Weevil; Scorpion Fly; St Mark's Fly.
Plus: Konik Ponies.
Plus: Bluebells, Forget-Me-Nots.

Why is it that when I am on time, the trains are late and when I am running a little late, the trains are on time! Today I had to wait nearly an hour because of 'signal problems'.

The weather forecasters are no better. They had all forecast moderate rain all day - when in fact it was mainly blue skies and warm sun. It's a good job I ignored them. Although I did wear my 'magic mac' - every time I wear it, it never rains! Plenty of pollen was around again today and I felt the first stages of my hay fever.

On the walk down to the Reserve I could hear some House Sparrows, but saw plenty of Starlings feeding on the lawns. Just inside the entrance to the Reserve I spotted some pretty Bluebells.

There were at least 3 parties of school children present today, all engaged in pond-dipping. They looked like they were enjoying themselves immensely which kept them away from the Hides.

Near the first pond I found a few interesting insects. I was actually looking for Shield Bugs but, finding none, spotted a pair of mating Flesh Flies; a Mint Moth and some Nettle Weevils.

When I reached the Water Vole area and looked out over the Meadow I could see a lone Grey Heron with Green-veined White and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies enjoying the sunshine. I was also pleased to see the Konik Ponies had made a welcome return. They were busy cropping back the overgrown field.

There were more insects on view just before I reached the Draper Hide, including a 16-spot Ladybird and some interesting looking Hoverflies.

Looking out from the Hide I could see the usual crowd, including the resident pair of Little Grebes swimming around just outside the Hide, calling to each other; a pair of displaying Lapwing; 3 Common Terns, 2 of which were displaying and 2 pairs of Stock Doves, still arguing over the residency permits for the Owl Box. Later on a Common Sandpiper flew in to the left and started feeding, then a pair of Shelduck flew in on to the island and promptly got their heads down. Then a Cetti's Warbler appeared just outside the right-hand window and flew past me to my left. It must have been busy as it didn't stop to say hello. Chiffchaff and Reed Warbler could be heard belting out their songs everywhere.

I made my way up the trail, picking up Blackcap on the way. I found a tiny 2-Spot Ladybird and then a resting Speckled Wood butterfly. Large White and Green-veined White butterflies were also around the area. All looking very industrious.

Other than all the children there seemed to be lots of people about too. I very rarely got a Hide to myself, with both the Kingfisher and Warbler Hides packed out. They must have all ignored the weather forecasters as well.

I arrived at the Twin Hides and looked out over the lagoon opposite. The reeds had grown considerably since my last visit a fortnight ago and I feared that if the Garganey were still present they would remain hidden. But, after just a few minutes scanning the area, the male swam into view.

It was a lucky spot, right time, right place. But I was not so fortunate with the views outside the either Hide. All that could be seen were all the usual suspects. A few Pochard were probably the most exciting birds to see. It was noise central again from both Hides with the BHGs being very vocal. I didn't hang around too long.

Back on the trail, towards the Kingfisher Hide, just before the turn-off, I spotted a Great-spotted Woodpecker and a Song Thrush on the same branch, both ignoring each other and getting on with their own thing. Another Speckled Wood fluttered by.

When I entered the Hide I found it quite packed, with mainly photographers. I recognised a few people. I managed to get a seat on the left-hand side. Not long after I had sat down one of the Kingfishers made an appearance. Both male and female were in fact flying in with food for the youngsters every 15 minutes or so. The routine went: fly in, sit on post, fly into nest, fly out, have a bath, then fly off. Every movement seemed to be recorded as shutters were constantly going off.

Other than the KF show I spotted a female Blackcap to my left, while I could also hear the wheezing call of a Greenfinch. A GSW sounded off, as did a couple of Cetti's. But the noise of everyone in the Hide began to put me off and, as more and more people filed in, I decided to head off.

Just outside the Hide a pair of Robins flew in, with the male feeding the begging female. On the trail leading upto the Warbler Hide I found a group of people following me. I was relieved when they took the Otter Trail route. We wouldn't all have squeezed into the Hide. A Brimstone butterfly hurried by me. In fact on the way to the Hide and back it appeared several times, just flying up and down the trail. I kept my eyes downwards and spotted at least one Caddis Fly and then a Scorpion Fly. I was doing really well on the insect front.

I arrived at the Warbler Hide to find it almost full. I recognised another guy in there, who was one of the Reserves volunteers. He went on to explain about the proposed new Hide just next to the new Kingfisher bank, outside the Draper Hide. I don't know if what he told me was true but it sounded like a whole lot of trouble was about to erupt. I won't go into it here, as it is just rumour at the moment. Suffice to say, I will be keeping well clear.
Looking outside I could hear, then see, plenty of Warbler action, both Reedies and Sedgies. They were joined by several Reed Buntings, all noisily flying around the area. A pair of Coot with 3 cootlets were nesting on the pond just in front. Later on a Jay flew over, followed by a Grey Heron. A Buzzard could be seen over the pylons. Time for lunch. Just before I left a Lapwing flew over.

I was disappointed not to hear, let alone see, the previously reported Grasshopper Warbler and so, after spending a pleasant hour, I headed off back down the trail.

But I was then really chuffed to spot my first Damselflies of the year. Firstly I spotted a Large Red then a Blue-tailed damselfly. Unfortunately, they didn't hang around and soon both vanished in the dense reeds on the stream. There were plenty of other insects on show again though, lots of Hoverflies and at least one St Mark's Fly still about. Whilst I was looking for the damsels I spotted a Cardinal Beetle crawling up one of the reeds above the stream.

Mint Moth
Failing to see the damsels again I walked on, hearing and seeing Chiffchaff and Reed Warbler. When I arrived back at the Kingfisher Hide I was pleased to see that it had thinned out a bit. This time I sat on the right-hand side and was immediately rewarded by another view of one of the birds flying in, repeating the same routine as before. Then, just after that, one of the nesting Kestrels flew in and landed on the dead tree with what appeared to be an unfortunate mouse. He called out to the female and she duly looked out of the nest box on the pylon, and flying down, grabbed the proffered meal and then flew off to consume it. He immediately flew off as well. She must have been a very demanding mate.

I didn't stay too long this time as time was getting on. So I found myself back at the Twin Hides where the only additions were a pair of Common Terns, both sitting on one of the goal-posts and another pair of Lapwing. A Grey Heron flew over. Possibly the same one as before.

I hurried on to the Draper Hide and sat there for the last 30 minutes. Additions here were another Jay fly-past and a bathing Pied Wagtail. The Common Sandpiper was feeding out to the right this time. I then made the usual stops on the way back to the visitor centre but saw nothing I hadn't already seen earlier.

On the walk back to the station a Great Crested Grebe was seen feeding on the canal. It was great to find all the insects, including the Damsels and it was amusing to see the weather forecast incorrect again. It wasn't too amusing to be delayed by the trains.