Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Rye Meads - 3rd October 14

Weather: Warm and sunny all day.

Birds Total: 43
Plus: Red Admiral, Speckled Wood butterflies.
Plus: Common Darter, Migrant Hawker dragonflies.
Plus: 7-spot Ladybird; Bees; Crane Fly; Dock Bug; Flesh Fly; Hoverfly; Midges; Spiders; Wasps.

Today had been touted as the last day of good weather, so presumably summer is over. It was indeed a very warm day, lots of sunshine with some cloud.

Nothing to see on the way down, but on the walk down to the Reserve I could hear a Ring-necked Parakeet and a Cetti's Warbler. Passing by a couple of Horse Chestnut trees I could see lots of conkers on the grass. In my day to see just one would have been a surprise but nowadays I guess there are other distractions for the younger generation.

Long-tailed Tits and Chiffchaffs welcomed me as I arrived, all singing away. By the first pond I could see a pair of Dock Bugs and a couple of 7-spot Ladybirds. A pair of mating Migrant Hawkers were flying around, bumping into various vegetation. A hen Pheasant was taking advantage of the birdseed spillage.

I then reached 'Water Vole Corner', hearing two Green Sandpipers fly over. A Wren sat up on the fence in front of me, belting out its explosive song. A quick look out over the HMWT meadow provided not a lot. So I hung around for a while hoping to see Ratty. 10 minutes later I spotted one, in amongst the reeds, just under the bridge.

It didn't move for quite a while, probably because it had heard me. But it eventually twitched it's whiskers, scratched a bit and then started to move out into the open. Unfortunately there were no apples in place but, as it crept further out, I crouched down to take a few shots.

Only for it to dive back into cover as a crowd of people marched up. They soon moved off and I settled back down again. After about another 20 minutes it re-appeared and again started to move out from the comfort of the reeds. But, annoyingly again, more people turned up. This time it seemed to ignore the disturbance and continued to feed, allowing a few photos.

I moved off up the trail, towards the Draper Hide, hearing Green Woodpecker as I went. From the Hide itself I could see the pair of Green Sandpipers, probably the same pair that had flown over, out to the right. Other birds on show were 3 Little Grebes; loads of Gadwall; Shoveler and Teal; at least 3 Common Snipe and a pair of Pied Wagtails, busily searching for scraps in between all the ducks. Then a family of 6 Mute Swans came flying in, splash-landing noisily right in front of the Hide.

A pair of Kestrels could be seen out to the right, over the meadow. Every now and then one of them would hover for a few seconds before moving on. A small flock of Snipe were flushed up and flew off towards the Twin Hides.

A larger flock of Starlings could be heard and seen high up on one of the electricity pylons on the trail. A few Goldfinch flew over, singing their recognisable bubbling song.

But, other than that, nothing much could be seen or heard. There weren't even any butterflies around. In fact, I only saw one Red Admiral and one Speckled Wood all day. But there were several Common Darters sunning themselves on the trails, flying up as I walked past.

I sat down in the Gadwall Hide, just in time to see a Jay fly off, right to left. There were another pair of Green Sandpipers out on the scrape, together with another pair of Pied Wagtails. They were quite possibly the same pairs. Also on view was a Grey Heron, busy preening; a dozen-plus Wigeon; 4 Lapwing and around 10 Common Snipe. There were lots of Gulls, a few LBBGs among them and lots of various ducks.

On the far spit I thought I spotted a long, thin orange bill connected to a black and white body. My first thought was an Oystercatcher. I tried to keep an eye on it but, after about 15 minutes, my attention was drawn elsewhere and, when I looked back again a few minutes later, it had disappeared.

A Coot, because I don't photograph them very often
The Jay reappeared, flying from left to right this time. I moved onto the Tern Hide which only provided the usual Coot City plus a few more Little Grebes.

I headed off towards the Kingfisher Hide. There were a few people present when I arrived but, alas, no Kingfisher show. I fear that they have left for the winter, having failed with their 4th and final brood. The only birds on show here were Coot and Moorhen and a pair of Gadwall. Darters and Hawkers interacted continuously along the edges of the lagoon, with one Common Darter seemingly flying up from his favoured spot attacking anything that came close. The Red Admiral fluttered by at this point.

So I took a walk up to the Warbler Hide, seeing a few more Dock Bugs along the way. Surprisingly, I didn't see very many dragons around this area. This was usually their favourite spots to soak up the sun.

Looking out from the Warbler Hide proved disappointing at first, but then the birds started to show up. First up was a very close flyby from a Grey Heron, squawking and flapping past me; a few Reed Warblers were flying back and forth over the reeds; a pair of Buzzards were gliding high in the sky over the treeline; about 4 or 5 Swallows were flying south; another Kestrel could be seen hovering way out to the right while another 4 or 5 Snipe flew past, heading for the meadow.

There was nothing much to be seen on the return leg. I bypassed the Kingfisher Hide and headed straight back to the Gadwall Hide. After settling down the peace was disturbed by a pair of Chinook helicopters flying over, scaring up most of the birds.

A minute later my birdy pal, Ron, walked in. After swapping the sightings of the day and putting the world to rights we eventually looked out over the lagoon and spotted a juvenile Kingfisher fly in and land on one of the posts in front of the Hide. We gave it another 10 minutes or so before moving on, Ron regaling me of his new-found knowledge of dragons and damsels and something about 'anal claspers'!

Time was getting on and so we headed back to Water Vole Corner for, hopefully, another glimpse of Ratty. But it was not to be and so I headed home.