Weather: Sunny and warm all day. Quite humid with some cloud towards the end of the day.
Bird Total: 43
Plus: Bank Vole; Konik Ponies; Rabbit.
Plus: Holly Blue, Large Skipper, Large White, Red Admiral, Ringlet, Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies.
Plus: Azure, Banded Demoiselle, Blue-tailed, Common Blue damselflies. Black-tailed Skimmer, Broad-bodied Chaser, Four-spotted Chaser dragonflies.
Plus: Ladybird Larvae, 7-spot Ladybird; Bluebottle; Buff-tailed Bumble Bee; Crane Fly; Dark Bush Cricket; Flesh Fly; Hoverfly; Midge; Red-tailed Bumble Bee; Soldier Beetle; Thick-kneed Flower Beetle; Wasp Beetle; Water Boatman; White-tailed Bumble Bee.
It was time for another visit to Rye Meads. The sun was shining and it was warm out. Unfortunately, it was another quiet day at the Reserve. Not too much to report and not too many photos, either.
There was nothing to report on the way down, an ominous portent of things to come. Unpacking my gear just outside the visitor centre, I noticed that not only were the feeders gone but the picnic tables had been removed as well?
I stopped off at the first pond. Only blue damsels to report here. Walking further on I spotted my first Large Skipper of the year, the only one of the day. Actually, it was another quiet day for butterflies. I only saw one each of Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and another first of the year, a Ringlet. A few bastard Whites were on the wing.
A few Thick-kneed Beetles were on the flowers, some flying around. The Beetles, not the flowers. At 'Water Vole Corner' there were at least 3 Konik Ponies out on the meadow. Well, in the shelter, out of the hot sun. On the pond I spotted the only Banded Demoiselle of the day, a male. There were Coot and Moorhen families swimming around, the youngsters squeaking for food. There were actually quite a few of these families around the Reserve today.
A Chiffchaff was sounding off and I could see it at the top of the tree opposite. A Green Woodpecker sounded off. A few Dark Bush Crickets were seen. Lots of blue damsels were around.
A little further on I could hear a Cetti's Warbler sounding off, one of several around the area. Then I spotted a lone Soldier Beetle. It was the only one I spotted all day, so it must have been on sentry duty.
I sat down in the Draper Hide and looked out. I could see 3 Green Sandpipers, the first of the year; several Lapwing; lots of Common Tern; even more Black-headed Gulls; at least 2 Teal; Shoveler and Pochard. There were scores of preening Gadwall, making it difficult to spot the female Garganey that had been reported recently. I spotted her after searching for about 10 minutes. She was asleep in amongst several Gadwall.
A Reed Bunting was calling out somewhere. I could see a few dragons out over the lagoon, mainly Broad-bodied and Four-spotted Chasers. A few people came in and so I decided to head further along the trail.
There wasn't much to report until I reached the Kingfisher Hide. Along the trail I disturbed a few male Black-tailed Skimmers. At the twin hides I could only see lots of Black-headed Gulls, with chicks; Common Terns, with chicks and a lone Little Grebe, with no chicks. On both lagoons it seemed to be Coot; BHG and Gadwall City.
No one was in the Kingfisher Hide when I arrived, with only a Grey Heron on call to greet me. It was outside, to the left, preening itself. The Kingfishers never showed during the hour I sat there. Out to my right a female Blackcap appeared, briefly, then a bald male Blackbird. There were at least 3 youngsters in the Kestrel box on the pylon, with the adults appearing every 10 minutes or so, with food. They are due to fledge any day now.
Whilst having lunch I could hear another Cetti's Warbler, then I heard a Water Rail screech out. A dragonfly flew around the lagoon but I couldn't make out the ID. A cute family of Coot swam around, with the chicks begging for food. There were four of them and I wondered if the parents would whittle the family down to two, as they sometimes do.
Lunch over, I headed up the trail towards the Warbler Hide. On the way I heard, then spotted, a lovely Song Thrush, belting out its' tune atop a tree. The only dragons I saw along this stretch were a couple of Black-tailed Skimmers, again scaring them up on the trail. It was disappointing not to see any others, especially along this stretch. It might be a bit too early to tell, but most of the trees and vegetation had been cut down here earlier in the year and I feared the worst.
It was around here that I spotted the Ringlet. With nothing else to report I sat down in the Warbler Hide. To find nothing outside at all. Nada. Bugger all. I could hear some bird song, mainly Reed Warbler and Reed Bunting but I couldn't see anything. There was an army of ants crawling along the ledge in front of me and so I watched them for a while. When a Woodpigeon flew past I decided to head back.
This time I scanned the trail in front of me and was rewarded with a conjoined pair of Black-tailed Skimmers. The female looked like she had a deformed abdomen and eventually they broke apart, with the male flying off. I watched the female land near to the stream, her body turned up at almost a right angle.
But again, there was nothing else to report before I returned to the Kingfisher Hide. This time another guy was in there and this time the Kingfisher turned up. A female, she sat on the middle post for a minute or so before flying off. The Kestrels were still calling out and being fed. Just before I left the Hide I spotted what was probably a Bank Vole scurry over the little wooden bridge to my right.
On the way back I decided to walk along the newly opened 'Seasonal Trail'. I saw bugger all along here as well. On the walk back to the twin hides I spotted the Holly Blue. With nothing new to report in either Hide, other than the Red Admiral, I headed back to the Draper Hide.
The only additions to the list here were a lone Little Ringed Plover and a lone Little Grebe. I noted that the male Shovelers seemed to be going into eclipse plumage. A couple of people came and went. With not much happening I decided to cover my losses and head back.
I stopped off at both ponds, seeing nothing. There were the remnants of a Pond-dipping session at one of them and I guessed that the reason nothing was about was maybe because the ponds had been pond-dipped to death. As I reached 'Water Vole Corner' I spotted a female Reed Bunting. Ratty never made an appearance and so I decided to head for home.
There was a late train, caused by 'Passenger Disruption', making me miss my connection. I had to wait another 25 minutes for the next one and, predictably, that was late too.
Oh well, you get good days and not so good days.
'Fortitudine Vincimus - By Endurance We Conquer.' Sir Ernest Shackleton