Sunday, 14 September 2014

Rye Meads - 10th September 14

Weather: Warm and sunny early on, clouding over later.

Birds Total: 41
Plus: Large White, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood butterflies.
Plus: Common Blue damselfly; Brown Hawker, Common Darter, Migrant Hawker dragonflies.
Plus: 7-spot, 18-spot, 22-spot Ladybirds; Bees; Brown Rat; Crane Fly; Dock Bug; Flesh Fly; Hoverfly; Midges; Spiders; Wasps.

It should have been a visit to Fishers Green today but I am not quite back to full visit fitness yet and a 10km walk around FG would probably have been a bit too much. So instead I opted for a more leisurely 5km walk around Rye Meads.

It was a nice, warm sunny day out, with just a few fluffy clouds about. Not too many people around, a few familiar faces in some of the Hides. Best of all this Reserve does not allow dog-walkers; joggers or cyclists.

There wasn't any one particular highlight today plus the bird total was still quite low. Possibly because migrants have been moving on and we haven't yet seen the Autumn/Winter birds arriving yet.

The rise of the fungi!
The first thing of note to report was at the first pond where a couple of Dock Bugs were present plus a 7-spot Ladybird, the first of many today and a Crane Fly. Or as I used to call them, a Daddy-Long-Legs. A movement at the back caught my eye and, at first, I thought it might have been a Vole but the long tail gave it away as a Brown Rat.

Cetti's Warbler and Chiffchaff could be heard around the Reserve but only a few Chiffies showed themselves, mainly flying with mixed flocks. Just before I reached Vole Corner I spotted more Dock Bugs and then a tiny, yellow 22-spot Ladybird.

A very yellow looking Large White butterfly
I reached said Vole Corner hoping to get more good views of 'Ratty' but unfortunately none were seen today. Despite hanging around for 20 minutes or so they remained stubbornly hidden. There wasn't even anything to see out over the HMWT meadow either.

And so I found myself sat in the Draper Hide. There were quite a few birds to be seen, mainly Gadwall; Coot and Moorhen. There were a family of 4 Little Grebes present, with one little chick continually begging for food. A pair of Shoveler were fast asleep and then I spotted a pair of Green Sandpipers, one left of the Hide and one right. A Grey Heron flew in and immediately flew back out.

The new Kingfisher bank to the left of the Hide looked to be falling apart already, as large chunks of sand had fallen away. Also, I noticed that the 'Green Weed' had returned with a vengeance, covering most of the lagoons on the Reserve.

I moved on seeing small feeding flocks of Tits passing by. A Speckled Wood butterfly landed nearby. There were a few of these seen today but, on the whole, there weren't very many flutterbys around at all. There were more insects seen today, notably lots of Bees and Wasps. It was nice to see several Dock Bugs in various parts of the Reserve. There were now loads of spiders about, mainly Common Garden; Long-jawed Orb and Nursery Web.

Walking along the trail I noticed several Common Darters taking in the sunshine. These were without doubt the most numerous dragons seen today but there were quite a few Migrant Hawkers seen as well.

Just before I reached the Twin Hides I heard the familiar screech of a Water Rail somewhere on the lagoon to the left.

I spent about 30 minutes in the Gadwall Hide. From here I could see over a dozen Common Snipe; 20-odd Lapwing; a pair of sleeping LBBGs; half-a-dozen Little Grebes; a Mute Swan family and the usual Coots and fowl. A Garganey had been seen earlier this morning but I was unable to locate it amongst all the Gadwall. A pair of Wigeon were swimming around at the far end of the lagoon and there were several Shoveler about.

I had a quick look out from the Tern Hide. No Terns now, just Cormorants; BHGs and Coot to be seen. A Green Woodpecker did call out in the nearby trees.

Then it was the obligatory visit to the Kingfisher Hide. The resident pair had produced a fourth set of eggs and they were due to hatch this week. I didn't really expect there to be much KF action today but it just turned out to be one of those lucky days. The usual crowd of photographers were there and had been there since opening time. It was about midday when I arrived and I had just sat down, listening to the guys bemoan the fact that they hadn't seen anything when the male called out and duly arrived, perching up on the middle post. He posed for a few minutes then flew in to the adjacent bushes and called out to the female. She then flew out of the nest and perched on the same post. I took a few snaps before the female flew off and the male took his turn on the eggs.

Apart from the KFs, a Jay flew over and a Great Spotted Woodpecker appeared on the tree beside the Kingfisher Bank, while a Blackcap was sounding off its clicking call to the left of the Hide. All this action happening in the 15 minutes I was sat there. Having photographed the KFs I smiled at the guys and headed off, leaving them all bemused. Hey, some days you get lucky!

I headed off down the trail towards the Warbler Hide. It took me a while to get there as I was creeping quite slowly down the track, looking for perched dragons. I disturbed two Migrants before seeing a Brown Hawker perched up above me. It allowed a few photos before flying off. A Red Admiral appeared briefly. I then spotted a Common Blue damselfly, the first of only two today. The area was very conspicuously absent of damsels today.

There is a lagoon adjacent to the trail here but was currently hidden by all the undergrowth. But I could hear Teal calling out. Actually, the 'undergrowth' was starting to look distinctly 'Autumnal' with leaves starting to turn into their glorious golden colours.

Just before I reached the Hide I spotted more Darters and Hawkers, one of which was a female, ovipositing Migrant. More Blackcaps sounded off. Apart from Cetti's and Chiffies they were the only Warblers I heard all day.

Initially there wasn't anything to be seen from the Warbler Hide so I concentrated on lunch. But, as always, where there's lunch birds seem to appear. This time a lovely pair of Hobbys appeared and proceeded to give me a wonderful flying display, criss-crossing the field in front of me, every now and then catching and eating dragons on the wing. I hadn't really seen any Hobbys much at all this year, mainly because I was always looking down and not up. But these two put on quite a performance.

The only other birds to be seen were a cock Pheasant walking up the newly created cattle path to the left while a Grey Heron flew over. Another Grey Heron flew in to the lagoon outside the Kingfisher Hide just after I had arrived back. The guys were all still there and even joked about getting ready to see the KFs again, as I had returned. But I only stayed for about 20 minutes, sensing that I had used up all my luck.

I moved on back down the trail, eventually arriving back at the Gadwall Hide. And wouldn't you know it! Just as I sat down a Kingfisher appeared in front of the Hide, perching up on a few of the wooden stumps. I must admit I did smile to myself.

Looking out over the lagoon a pair of Green Sandpipers had turned up while the Snipe count had risen to 16. Around half-a-dozen Swallows could be seen flying around overhead.

Time was getting on and so I headed back to have another look from the Draper Hide. On the way several Chiffchaffs flew past, some alighting on a nearby tree, all continually making their distinctive contact calls.

Only one Green Sandpiper remained but over a dozen Teal had appeared, along with 4 or 5 Shoveler. 3 or 4 Stock Doves were picking their way around the island, while a Pied Wagtail flew overhead.


On the walk back to Vole Corner I heard a Goldfinch fly over. Ratty never made an appearance and so I headed for home. A quiet, fairly uneventful but satisfying day out. It did feel a bit like 'After the Lord Mayor's Show' after Amwell earlier in the week.

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