Sunday, 16 November 2014

Rye Meads - 31st October 14

Weather: Warm and sunny all day. Slight cloud.

Birds Total: 42
Plus: Peacock butterfly.
Plus: Common Darter, Migrant Hawker dragonflies.
Plus: Ladybirds; Bees; Crane Fly; Flesh Fly; Grey Squirrel; Hoverfly; Midges; Spiders; Water Vole.

The last day of October and the temperature reached over 20 degrees. The warmest Halloween Day on record. And the wildlife reflected it by the appearance of bees and hoverflies amongst others. Although the forecast from now on is for a vastly cooler climate.

I spotted a perched Kestrel from the train on the way down, with over a hundred Canada Geese lined along the adjacent fields.

I arrived at the visitor center to find that they had a raft of Halloween events for the children today. I was asked if I would like my face painted. I politely declined.

At 'Water Vole Corner' looking out over the HMWT field 4 Common Snipe flew up and away; a Kingfisher flashed past, as they do; a lone Pied Wagtail also flew over as did about 200 Starlings. No sign of Ratty though.

Just before I reached the Draper Hide a couple of Goldfinches flew over and I could also hear several Cetti's Warblers around the area.

I then spent a very nice 45 minutes or so in the Hide. Amongst all the usual suspects out on the lagoon I spotted a Water Rail; a Jay and a Green Sandpiper out to the left by the Kingfisher Bank. Bearing right from there I could see around half-a-dozen Common Snipe; lots of Teal; a few Shoveler; 3 Wigeon; a pair of Little Grebes; at least 5 Stock Doves; a pair of Pied Wagtails while a lone Grey Heron flew in, disturbing the peace and quiet. In total I saw 3 Green Sandpipers out there. A Harlequin Ladybird flew in and landed just in front of me. Lastly, a Song Thrush flew past from right to left.

Out over the Gadwall lagoon about 200+ Lapwing suddenly flew up and around. As I moved up the trail a Green Woodpecker called out. Common Darter dragonflies were still about, basking on the trails. Up above, there were still loads and loads of Starlings flying about. A mini-murmuration? Or just a mur?

I then visited the twin hides. There were only the usual suspects from the Tern Hide plus a couple of Wigeon. But from the Gadwall Hide I could see all the Lapwing; 30+ Common Snipe; a Green Sandpiper, which ventured in quite close and a Grey Wagtail. There were quite a few Teal and Shoveler plus a few more Wigeon.

I paid a quick call into the Kingfisher Hide but, as to be expected at this time of year, nothing much was about, other than pairs of Coot and Gadwall. There was also a 12-spot ladybird which had also flown in and land near me.

Being Half-Term there were quite a few families about plus lots of others taking advantage of the great weather. The plus side of this Reserve is that there were no dog-walkers; joggers or cyclists about.

On the walk down to the Warbler Hide I spotted a Green Woodpecker on the trail, just behind a Grey Squirrel. And behind that was 3 hen Pheasants. All disappeared when they spotted me.

From the Hide itself, not a great deal could be seen. Just Gulls flying around. I did notice more ladybirds. In fact, lots of them. All crammed in together, trying to hibernate. At first I thought they were different species but I think nearly all were Harlequins. They soon dispersed after I opened up the window.

With nothing else on show I made my way back to the Gadwall Hide where, at last, a few birds ventured in close for some photos. First up was a Grey Heron, sat atop one of the goalposts. Then a Grey Wagtail flew in and landed just in front of the Hide and immediately began foraging around. It moved off when a Green Sandpiper moved in. Then, just as I was about to leave a Kingfisher flew in and landed on the posts in front and began fishing. He sat on the nearest post to us, in the sunshine. That was when my camera battery gave out. I quickly replaced it and carried on snapping away. It was an excellent 30-minute show by all of them.

I headed back to the Draper Hide for a quick look. On the way I bumped into a friend who had just come down from Amwell. He had managed to spot the Yellow-browed Warbler there. I was quite surprised that one was still about.

In the Hide I found quite a few people. By this time of the day the sun was shining down on the lagoon at an angle, giving off some lovely light. So I took advantage by snapping away at some of the ducks.

I headed back to 'Water Vole Corner' to have one more go at Ratty. After about 10 minutes one showed right in front of me. A brilliant end to a brilliant day.