Weather: Cloudy with some sunshine. Quite humid.
Bird Total: 33
Plus: Grey Squirrel; Konik Ponies.
Plus: Comma, Common Blue, Green-veined White, Large White, Meadow Brown, Small White, Speckled Wood Butterflies.
Plus: Common Blue damselfly. Brown Hawker, Common Darter, Migrant Hawker dragonflies.
Plus: Ladybird Larvae, 7-spot Ladybird; Bluebottle; Crane Fly; Dark Bush Cricket; Dock Bug; Flesh Fly; Hoverfly; Midge; Pond Skater; Soldier Beetle; Water Boatman.
Parndon Wood Nature Reserve is run by ECCO and can be found on the southern outskirts of Harlow. At around 900 years old it can be termed as 'ancient woodland'. It is also designated as a Special Site for Scientific Interest (SSSI). And it is also my friend Barry's local reserve. He tells me he has been visiting this Reserve since the war. But he won't tell me which war.
It was my first visit today and I felt that it would be very remiss of me not to visit a local NR. So, having been picked up from the Station, we drove the short distance and entered the Reserve just after 11am. A late start because it doesn't open until 11am.
The Reserve has 3 Hides and a Conservation Centre, plus a small Cafe, which I was reliably informed sold Carrot Cake. But not today. You can buy some of their 'Parndon Wood Nature Reserve Honey' which is made on site by their very own bees.
We took a very leisurely and peaceful stroll around the Reserve, stopping off at two of the Hides. Barry had been given the key to open up both Hides. Unfortunately, it was probably the wrong time of the year to visit because we didn't see too much wildlife. On the birding front we could hear the constant yaffle of a Green Woodpecker and the call of a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
A couple of Grey Squirrels entertained us from one of the Hides, while I was delighted to find several Dock Bugs and a couple of Green Shield Bugs, all in various instar stages. We also encountered a few butterflies, several Meadow Browns and plenty of Whites.
After about an hour we had completed the small circuit and stopped off at the Centre again, where Barry the 'Keyholder' handed back the key. It is certainly a lovely Reserve and well worth visiting every season, especially in the Autumn where we should be able to see the Fallow Deer about and maybe even witness the Rut.
From here we decided to drive down and pay an afternoon visit to RSPB Rye Meads. Our target bird here was the Green Sandpiper, which Barry had been reading up on. In the event we managed to spot 4 of them, from the first Hide, the Draper. There was also a lone Little Egret out to our right. Plenty of wildfowl were on show plus a pair of Stock Doves, who were trotting out their marriage vows. Our second visit, on the way back, afforded us a view of at least 4 Common Snipe, a bird I hadn't seen for some time.
We visited 3 other Hides, Gadwall; Tern and Kingfisher. There were only the usual birds on display from the Tern Hide but we did manage to see a lone Common Sandpiper; a few Common Tern and several Lapwing from the Gadwall Hide. From the Kingfisher Hide we immediately spotted the male Kingfisher, sitting on one of the posts. He seemed to inspect one of the nest-holes before flying off.
On the trails we kept a lookout for any odonata, seeing at least one Common Darter; one Brown Hawker and a couple of Migrant Hawkers. Strangely we only saw one, teneral, Common Blue damselfly. We did see a couple of Great Crested Grebes out on the lagoons, a bird I haven't seen here for some years. There was also a Little Grebe seen on the lagoon outside the Gadwall. A lone Teal was spotted from the Draper Hide. Earlier, just after we had entered the Reserve, by the first little pond, we spotted a juvenile Chiffchaff, the only warbler seen all day.
On this same little pond I discovered a few more Dock Bugs, again in various instar stages as well as a lone Dark Bush Cricket. Butterflies included several Speckled Woods, again something I hadn't seen for quite some time. Also seen were a lone Comma and several Green-veined Whites.
We decided to head off just after 3 as Barry had a few chores to do at home, set by 'Er Indoors'! We were going to have our, by now, traditional end-of-day pint at the local but there were only Green King beers to be had. Not our favourite brewery.
A lovely, fairly quiet, day out in the warm, but cloudy skies. Rain and thunderstorms are forecast for the rest of the week.
'Never look for birds of this year in the nests of the last.' Miguel de Cervantes