Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Rye Meads - 26th June 14

Weather: Mostly cloudy with some sun.

Birds Total: 47
Plus: Green-veined White; Large White, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral, Ringlet, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White butterflies.
Plus: Blue-tailed, Common Blue damselflies; Black-tailed Skimmer dragonflies.
Plus: Flesh Fly; Hoverfly; Mint leaf beetle; Pond Skaters; Soldier Beetle; Spotted Crane Fly.
Plus: Konik Ponies.

I decided to pay a visit to RM today, mainly because a pair of Black-necked Grebes had turned up a few weeks ago and managed to produce 3 chicks, a first for RM. I had waited until today, not just because of the trip to Madeira, but also because I knew all the twitchers would be filling up the Hide.


It was another fine, warm day with a few clouds. On the journey down a Little Egret was seen and again there were a few House Sparrows at the local station. A Chiffchaff could be seen singing away, atop a tree, just before I arrived at the Reserve.

There was a coach parked up by the entrance with lots of children disembarking. So I quickly hurried in and began setting up my gear. I sensed a bit of pond-dipping action. BY the children that is, NOT the children themselves!

Visiting the first pond I could see at least 3 Blue-tailed damselflies with plenty of pond skaters skating around the pond. As they do. What I thought was a Mint Leaf beetle was resting on a leaf. As they do. A lone Goldfinch flew overhead, calling.

When I reached the walkway another Chiffchaff was singing. Looking out over the HMWT field I could only see the usual 4 Konik Ponies; a lone Magpie, which in itself is a bit unusual and a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly that fluttered by.

Ratty wasn't around so I moved on down the trail. Just before the entrance to the Draper Hide I spotted 2 Ringlets, fluttering about, low down in the grasses. The first of many today.

From the Hide I could see a lone Lapwing; a pair of Common Terns; lots of Gadwall and BHGs; a pair of Herring Gulls and a lone Little Grebe. Half-a-dozen or more Shoveler were all asleep, the males in their eclipse plumage. There were also a few Black-tailed Skimmers skimming over the lagoon. As they do.

A male Reed Bunting flew past from right to left and a Cetti's Warbler could be heard belting out its' song. A pair of Coot had 3 small chicks, right in front of the Hide, all squeaking away, begging for food. The Scrape wasn't much of a scrape now, vegetation taking up much of the area. But the new Kingfisher home was now starting to blend in to its' surroundings.

Just outside the Hide, moving on, there were more Ringlets; a Red Admiral and a few Solder Beetles, on guard duty and a Spotted Crane Fly, all crammed onto the few flowers around the area.

Further down the trail, a few people were looking into the adjacent trees. Tucked in there was a newly-fledged Whitethroat. It looked scared to death, poor thing. I wasn't surprised, having a group of people leering at it.

There were quite a few people on the Reserve today, mainly in the Gadwall and Kingfisher Hides. I only paid one 20-minute visit to the KF hide as I was a little fed up with all the large tripods and lenses used by the same people that seem to always be in there, taking up most of the room. They're present all day, every day and I'm mystified by how many photos they all want of the same birds doing the same thing. It was also quite noisy. I was also mystified that they were here and not trying to photograph the Black-necked Grebe family. After all, it's not every day you see a BNG family!


It was also noticeable that the 'Green Weed' was starting to cover most of the lagoons and lakes. It will need some cold weather over the next few days to get rid of it. Fortunately, it comes and goes quite quickly.

I paid my first visit to the twin hides. I sat down in the, fairly packed, Gadwall Hide and soon located the Black-necked Grebe family. They could be seen out to the right, about a hundred metres away. There were only 2 chicks left, one each on the parents' back. A bit distant, but fairly good views nonetheless.

A few familiar faces were also in the Hide. Other than the Grebes it was business as usual with lots of BHGs; Gadwall; Coots and Mutes. Other families present were Mallards; Tufted Duck and Moorhen. A few BHG chicks were on the island just in front of the Hide, a first on this island for this Reserve. A Little Grebe family could be seen further out along the left edge of the lagoon.

Just before I moved on a Grey Heron flew over and was quickly mobbed by the BHGs who soon chased it off. There were only noisy BHGs and several pairs of Common Terns looking out from the Tern Hide, most with lots of chicks. There were again more Gadwall and Coot here.

Warblers singing out included Cetti's, Reed and Sedge as I walked along the trail. Then I found myself in the KF Hide.

I managed to squeeze myself in between all the tripods and waited for some KF action. I witnessed the male fly in with fish, fly into the nest, fly out, clean himself up from the middle post and then fly off. Other things on show from this hide were a Kestrel sat atop the top box; a Green Woodpecker flying in and landing on the dead tree out to the right and a few Warblers flying back and forth across the lagoon. But I couldn't stand it any longer and soon moved on.

On the trail down to the Warbler Hide I spotted another Cetti's flying past. I could hear a Song Thrush somewhere in the nearby trees. Then a Green-veined White flew by and landed for a positive ID.

Unfortunately there wasn't much to report from the Warbler Hide, mainly Gulls and Pigeons flying back and forth. A couple of Reed Buntings were singing out a song duel. Or duet. A few Reed Warblers flitted around. One of the familiar faces was in there with me. Lunch.

We both walked back, parting at the KF hide. He didn't fancy it. I took a quick look, seeing the same people. They looked like they hadn't moved! I quickly closed the door and carried on.

I then found myself in the Gadwall Hide again and sat there for over an hour. There were less people in here. The BNGs hadn't moved at all but the male dived down for food every now and then. Eventually he swam quite close to the Hide, giving much better views, especially his blood-red eyes, capped by golden eyebrows.

I headed back towards the Draper Hide. On the way I spotted another Small Tortoiseshell butterfly; a lovely Sedge Warbler posing; a Meadow Brown and a Large White. The clouds were creeping over more and more now.

Just before the entrance to the Draper I could see dozens of Soldier Beetles on the flowers, some creating future battalions.

I spent a quiet last half hour in the Draper but the only additions were a lone Pied Wagtail and a Grey Heron.

It was a fairly nice day, not as productive as yesterday's local walk. But take away the BNGs and the KFs and it would have been just a nice day.