Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Pintail at Rye Meads!

Rye Meads - 5th December 14

Weather: Cloudy with some sunshine. Very cold.

Birds Total: 43

It was another nice day out today. Although very cold, with slight cloud and a short, sharp shower I was wrapped up, with several layers. Actually, I felt a bit like the old Michelin Man!

Bird of the day was a lovely male Pintail, seen from the Gadwall Hide. Although he was at the back of the lagoon all day he did give some good views. He keep ducking his head down, feeding, every few seconds. He was swimming back and forth and kept his distance, not coming close once.

I only saw six other people all day and only then very briefly. I must remember to check my aftershave cabinet.

There was nothing much to see out of the train window on the way down, other than lots of fields dotted with a myriad of small ponds and lakes. And, although the Reserve had already been open for about an hour, I was the first visitor.

View from the Draper Hide.
It was too cold for Ratty to be seen and I soon moved on to the Draper Hide. There had only been a lone Grey Heron out over the HMWT meadow. A Cetti's Warbler was singing out, but, as usual, it remained elusive.

Unfortunately, the lagoon outside the Hide was quite high and there were only a few species out there. Several Shoveler; Teal; Tufted Duck; Gadwall; Coot and about 20-odd Canada Geese. All milling about the lagoon, some feeding, some just milling. But there were several Redwing outside the Hide, trying to pick off the last of the juicy-looking red berries.

View from the Ashby Hide.
I moved on and paid a quick visit to the Ashby Hide. Directly in front of the Hide was a male Pheasant, out in the open, pecking away at the grass. A pair of Moorhen and a pair of Coot were swimming around. A lone female Teal was near the Pheasant. I could also hear a Water Rail sounding off. But, as soon as I opened up a window, they all moved off. If it wasn't my aftershave, was it my fashion sense?

Buff-tailed Bumble Bee, I think.
I headed off down the trail, spooking a lone Jay. There were several species seen as I walked along, mainly lots of Blackbirds, nearly all of which were sounding off their alarm calls. Robins; Tits; Finches and Dunnocks were all present. Most of them sounding off. Hey, it's only me, guys!

I then arrived at the Gadwall Hide to see the Pintail. Also out there were well over 150 Lapwing, which were being put up every few minutes; several Common Snipe; lots of Shoveler and Teal plus all the other usual suspects. But there wasn't a lot happening, it was just business as usual. A quick visit to the Tern Hide only gave me Tufted Duck and what looked like Coot City, with several of them swimming around right in front of the Hide. It did look very congested out there.

Back out on the trail I could see a Green Woodpecker about 30 meters ahead of me. There was no way I could hide from it and it duly spotted me and flew off, its' bright green plumage reflecting back as it went.

View from the Kingfisher Hide.
I paid a visit to the Kingfisher Hide, not really expecting to see much. But, after only being there for a few minutes, I spotted a male Kingfisher sat on a branch out to the left. It was diving down into the water, feeding and then proceeded to have a preen, before sitting still. There were also the resident pair of Coot and a couple of Moorhen, one of which had sat atop one of the stumps. I could also hear and Water Rail.
Great Spotted Woodpecker

One of several million Coot on the Reserve.
A few minutes later a Kestrel appeared from nowhere, seemingly from the reed-bed. It flew up and away. Then I could see all the Lapwing fly up over the Gadwall lagoon.

I decided to go down and sit in the lower tier, to try and get a better view of the Kingfisher. I was hoping that it would get closer. But I took my eye off it and when I looked back, it had disappeared. With just the Coots and Moorhens for company I moved on.

As I walked down to the Warbler Hide I spooked another Green Woodpecker. Then I heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker and looked up to see it climbing up one of the trees, pecking away as it went.

There was nothing to be seen from the Warbler Hide, other than a fly-by from a Grey Heron. Time for lunch.

Work along the Trail.
I could see that there had been lots of work done around the Reserve, with lots of little piles of cut reed dotted along the trails. I guess they would become homes for someone. Or something.

View from the Gadwall Hide.
I arrived back at the Gadwall Hide but the only birds to add to the list were a pair of little Pied Wagtails, darting in and out, between all the ducks and a pair of Little Grebe. I hung around the Hide for about an hour, mainly because it had started to rain. The weather forecast was for slight cloud early on, a band of heavy cloud, with rain, around midday but should clear after 2. I sat there until after 3 when the cloud finally decided to move on before letting the sun come back out.

My last stop, as usual, was the Draper Hide. There was still nothing too much about out on the lagoon and so I concentrated instead, on several Redwing outside the Hide. To my delight there were soon joined by several Fieldfare, my first of the season. One of them allowed to get fairly close, for a record shot.

But it was getting colder and the sun had also started to disappear so I decided to call it a day. Not one of the best days out but I hadn't been out for a while and so it was good to be out in the fresh, if cold, air.

As ever, for more of my photos please visit my Flickr site.