Thursday, 24 December 2015

Bramblings @ Rye Meads!

Rye Meads - 18th December 15

Weather: Cloudy and overcast all day. Still quite warm.

Bird Total: 42

Despite feeling a little knackered from yesterdays' hike, I dragged myself out of bed and decided to pay one last visit of the year to Rye Meads. A pair of Water Pipits had been seen recently. Hey, I'm short on Pipits this year!

Unfortunately, I slept in a bit too long this morning and missed my intended train. Even worse, the next train was a few minutes late and then we were held up by a Goods Train passing us by. In short, it delayed my train for just long enough to miss my connection. So I had to wait half-an-hour for the next one. Not a good start.

When I eventually arrived at the Reserve I was feeling moody and just a little curmudgeonly. There were dark clouds overhead and, being RM, I wasn't too sure it was a good idea for a visit. In fact, I was now feeling quite determined to have a bad day. I was already writing the first few paragraphs of my report....'should have stayed in bed'....'nothing here, move along!'

I'd only ventured out because I was trying to equal, if not beat, my visit record of 2013. I only need 4 more!

Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men! The Gods must have taken pity on me, for the clouds started to dissipate and the birds started to appear. Some corkers, too!

Merry Xmas, Harry!
There had been nothing to report until I arrived and sat down in the Draper Hide. The feeders just outside the Visitor Centre were full and were being given a good seeing to. Mainly Tits and Finches, plus female Pheasants below. Although they were all within a few metres, they were ignoring me. I guess they were all quite used to people walking past now.

There wasn't a great deal of activity outside the Hide. I could see one very miserable looking Grey Heron. There were plenty of Teal about. In fact, they were by far the most plentiful bird out there. They were flanked by a few Shoveler and Tufted Duck; Coot and a couple of Mute Swans. The water level out there was quite high, nearly swamping the islands. However, there was a lone Green Sandpiper, moving between all the Teal.

Looking at the trees surrounding the lagoon, I could see a few small flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare. A large flock of Lapwing were being put up, over the other lagoon, escorted by Black-headed Gulls. One last sweep with my bins gave me 3 or 4 Common Snipe, all hunkered down in the grass.

Where's that Brambling?
As I exited the Hide and started my walk up the trail, I could see a few people looking through their bins at something. Hopefully, something good. When I arrived my heart missed a beat, as one of them told me that a pair of Bramblings were in amongst a flock of Chaffinches, all feeding on the seeds on the path, that had been put out for them, about 20 metres away.

I quickly picked up the male and then the female. They were all being flushed back into the trees every now and then, but after a minute or two, first one, then another finch, flew back down. The Bramblings were a little more cautious and would only fly down when there were lots of Chaffs there.

I was elated! I had never, knowingly, seen a Brambling before. They were on show for about 15 minutes before flying off. All thought of having a lie-in and problems with trains were flushed from my memory. A Lifer!

I headed up the trail, seeing a female Bullfinch call out, before flying off. Just before I entered the Gadwall Hide, I heard the distinctive call of a Water Rail. The Hide was empty, as was the lagoon outside. Well, not quite.

Looks like this tree had some good years!
However, it was surprisingly devoid of Snipe. This was usually the best place to see them, especially at this time of the year. There were quite a few Gulls out there, as well as loads of Coot, as to be expected. I did see another Green Sandpiper, possibly the same one. The bonus was seeing a pair of Shelduck. Although they were fast asleep, at the back of the lagoon. The water levels here were quite low, in marked contrast to the Draper lagoon. At least one of them has to be high, at all times.

All the Lapwing were being put up by an unknown something, on a regular basis. A pair of Stock Doves were feeding in amongst the Lapwing, as were a large flock of Starlings. However, apart from the usual wildfowl, not a lot else.

I then found myself in the Kingfisher Hide. I had paid brief visits to the Ashby and Tern Hides, seeing not a lot. There wasn't much to be seen from the Kingfisher Hide, either. No Kingfishers today, just a pair of Coot and a Grey Squirrel climbing a tree. The Squirrel, not the Coot. I broke for lunch.

The weather was again very mild today. I had cut down on the layers, bearing in mind I had a flask of coffee with me. However, it wasn't as bright as yesterday. I didn't see very many people around the Reserve all day. All out doing the Christmas shopping, no doubt.

A party of Long-tailed Tits flew by, to my left. Noisy Starlings were lined up on the wires above. When they all departed, I did too. It was a very quiet walk down to the Warbler Hide. I noticed that a lot more trees had been cut down, especially along the trails.

I looked out from the Hide, over the Meadow. Not a dickie-bird!

And nothing much else to see or to report after that, until I arrived back at Brambling Boulevard. This time, I was given further, longer views of the male, as he chanced his luck, feeding on the seeds put out earlier by the staff. Magpies; Moorhens; Pheasants and Woodpigeons were also in on the feast. Then, a small bird flew in and joined the mêlée. At first, I thought it was a Goldcrest but one of the Reserve volunteers said that it was a Firecrest!

Unfortunately, the light wasn't too good and I didn't take many photos today, at all. I paid another visit to the Draper Hide, not seeing anything more and so decided to head home. Just before I left I was surprised to hear, then see, a male Blackcap.

The trains continued to play silly buggers. I was held up just long enough, again, to miss my connection. This time, waiting for over 40 minutes! I was informed, by a member of staff, that the weather was to blame! Nice one, Abellio!

'Word of the day: PANJANDRUM - a pompous, pretentious, self-important official.'