Thursday, 23 October 2014

Rye Meads - 17th October 14

Weather: Cloudy and overcast early, brightening up later.

Birds Total: 43
Plus: Peacock, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood butterflies.
Plus: Common Darter, Migrant Hawker dragonflies.

Oh dear.

The weather wasn't too good today, despite a good-ish forecast. The Reserve was still worth a visit but there wasn't anything to shout about.

It was when I decided to head home early around 2.30 that things went really pear-shaped. To cut a long story short, there were major problems with the trains. No trains and no replacement bus service. So I had to make my way back via a couple of bus journeys, not getting home until after 7. I wasn't best pleased, especially with Greater Anglia's general lack of information and attitude.

Rain appeared a couple of times during the day, but nothing too much. Though it had rained quite heavily overnight, leaving a wet start to the day. Nothing was seen on the journey down, other than a few extra ponds.


And it wasn't until I arrived at 'Water Vole Corner' that I spotted a couple of Pied Wagtails flying over. Nothing else was around, not even 'Ratty'.

View from the Draper Hide
Just before I arrived at the Draper Hide a Green Woodpecker yaffled by overhead. From the Hide itself I could see one Green Sandpiper out the right; one shabby looking Wigeon out front; several Shoveler and Teal. One of the Pied Wagtails was foraging out on one of the little islands. It was soon joined by a lone Grey Wagtail, although both kept their distance from one another. I've seen a few disputes between the two species before. The resident Little Grebe was again on patrol, swimming around just in front of the Hide. Several Stock Doves were mixed in with a large group of Woodpigeons. Then, just before I left, I managed to pick out at least 9 Common Snipe asleep out to the left.

I headed off up the trail. The sun made an all too fleetingly short appearance. While it was out I spotted a Speckled Wood butterfly along the trail. Actually there were a few butterflies seen today, a few Red Admirals and a lone Peacock.

I made a quick stop at the Ashby Hide as I hadn't paid a visit for quite a while. I remembered why, there wasn't much about, other than Coots and Moorhens. There was another Little Grebe present though, plus a few Migrant Hawkers.

Walking up towards the twin hides I could hear and see 50+ Starlings up high on the pylon and wires, all chattering away.

View from the Gadwall Hide
Sat down in the Gadwall Hide, looking out, I was just making a count when everything went up. Scanning around a Kestrel could be seen flying past. When everything eventually came back down I counted past 100 Lapwing; 50+ Common Snipe plus all the usual suspects.

I heard the familiar squeal of a Water Rail and then a very loud Cetti's Warbler just outside the Hide. I had a quick look but, even though it must have been only yards away I still couldn't pick it out. Seeing only the usual suspects from the Tern Hide I moved on.

The trail provided a Great Spotted Woodpecker calling while a few Common Darters flew up as I walked past. And then I arrived at the Kingfisher Hide.

As to be expected, post Kingfisher season, not much was about. More Coots and Moorhens, while a Chiffchaff was sounding off. The Lapwings were up again, over the Gadwall lagoon.

Migrant Hawkers escorted me up to the Warbler Hide, the Red Admiral also making its' appearance here. There wasn't anything to see from the Hide at first, but then a Jay flew past from right to left. Then 2 flocks of Common Snipe, both around 20+ flew up, one flock flying off to the lagoons while the other one landed in the HMWT field. Just as I was having lunch a 12-spot Ladybird flew in and landed right in front of me.

Just as I left the Hide and entered the trail again, I spooked a Green Woodpecker, who squawked at me before flying off. I had another quick look from the Gadwall Hide, only adding Grey Heron to my list, before arriving back in the Draper Hide.

Here I found another Grey Heron wandering around disturbing everything before a Kingfisher flashed past from right to left. It actually did this twice while I was there. There was a bit of Gadwall action just in front of the Hide, with several males vying for the affections of a lone female. It looked like she had already made up her mind as she swam beside one male while fighting off the others.

There weren't too many people around the Reserve today. No familiar faces this time. But, oddly, every time someone got up to leave they smiled at me and said something along the lines of, 'I'll leave you in peace.' I must have that sort of face.

I decided to try and call it a day at that point and headed off to the station. But, because of the problems, I returned and, once again, found myself sat back down in the Draper Hide. This time there were around half-a-dozen people in there, with one of them my fellow Blogger, SeymourBirds.

But I couldn't put off the inevitable and made my way back to the Station, finding no change. The 'Information Help Point' was not helpful. So I walked around to the bus stop, finding that I had just missed the hourly bus to Harlow. Of course. The main man at Broxbourne told me that there was no bus replacement service - a new company policy? I guess when you run a monopoly you don't really have to try very hard.

It was dark when I eventually arrived home, a little tired. But mostly fed up. It was enough to send me down the pub for a pint. Fortunately.