Monday, 30 May 2016

A 'Oneshank' appears @ Rye Meads!

Rye Meads - 20th May, 16

Weather: Cloudy with sunny intervals. Warm.

Bird Total: 48
Plus: Konik Pony; Redpoll Cattle; Rabbit.
Plus: Azure, Banded Demoiselle, Blue-tailed, Common Blue and Large Red damselflies; Hairy dragonfly.
Plus: Holly Blue, Orange Tip, Peacock, Small White butterflies.
Plus: 2, 16 and Harlequin Ladybird; Alderfly; Banded Snail; Bluebottle; Crane Fly; Dark Bush Cricket; Flesh Fly; Green Nettle Weevil; Green Tortoise Beetle; Hoverfly; Long-jawed Orb Spider; Midge; Nursery Web Spider; Pond Skater; Wasp Beetle; Water Boatman.

It was time for my now-quarterly visit to Rye Meads. I had intended to visit Amwell today, but the poor weather prompted me to make a last-minute decision to switch to RM. The Kingfishers were rumoured to be fledging soon, anyway. And I haven't had much Kingfisher action this year.

I met a friend of mine on the station platform and chatted on the journey, so I didn't see much outside. Whilst waiting for the train, I could hear Collared Dove and Chiffchaff. After a thankfully, trouble-free journey I walked into the visitor centre just on 10. On the walk up, I could hear Chiffchaff, Greenfinch and a Cuckoo.

'Yes, I'm a member and yes, I know my way around,' in answer to the usual questions. 'Much about?' I asked. 'Um, not sure.'

Well, there wasn't much about until I sat down in the Draper Hide. Not too many birds anyway, other than a singing Blackcap. However, there were some interesting insects on the way.

My first Green Tortoise Beetle of the season and only my second-ever; an immature Azure damselfly and the first Wasp Beetle of the season. It was looking like another invertebrate day, today.

Another birder had tagged onto me, at 'Water Vole Corner', as he had stated that he was a novice 'at this sort of thing'. Whilst in the Hide he bombarded me with numerous questions. 'What's that one called?'

I patiently answered everything I could, whilst straining to see if there were any interesting birds on show. There were - a pair of Redshank were wandering around, at the back of the lagoon. After about 10 minutes I noticed that one of them had only one leg and was hopping around, trying to feed. I decided to call him 'Oneshank'.

A few Lapwing were on show, 'peewitting' whilst giving an aerial display; several pairs of Common Terns, all pairing up; a few Pochard and a pair of sleepy Shoveler. A Stock Dove flew in. A score or more Swift were whizzing around the skies. Otherwise, it was all the usual stuff.

I was a little bit surprised not to see any Green Sandpipers on their favourite lagoon. In fact, I didn't see any all day. Very strange, considering this Reserve is quite famous for them. I guess they've all moved on to greener pastures, for the summer months.

My friend moved on after about 10 minutes. Other people came and went. The water levels outside were quite low but surprisingly, there wasn't much wader action, other than the Redshank and the Lapwing. Allegedly, there had been plenty of wader action in recent weeks. But not today.

I moved on myself. I managed to spot another male Blackcap, in the trees. A Reed Bunting was calling out. Then a Green Woodpecker yaffled away. Further on, I came across a singing Garden Warbler. There were several families around this part of the Reserve - Canada Geese; Coot; Moorhen and Mallard, all trailing several chicks.

I visited the Twin Hides. Both disappointing. The water levels were quite high, looking out from the Gadwall Hide. Only a lone Little Grebe, swimming near the Hide, was of any interest. And it was Gull City, looking out from the Tern Hide.

Moving on, I arrived at the Kingfisher Hide. When I entered I found all the usual faces present. However, it was good to see Katie Kingfisher and Mrs Water Vole there, too. Nearly all the seats were taken and people were still arriving.

The Kingfishers put on quite a good show, arriving with fish and departing soon after, on a fairly regular basis. They made several appearances whilst I was there, although only as close as the middle post. Other than the Kingfishers, we heard a Kestrel calling, a Garden Warbler appeared, out to the left, whilst other Warblers could be heard singing. A Large White and a Holly Blue butterfly were seen, as well as an unidentified damselfly.

After an hour or so, it became apparent that the young weren't going to fledge today. It was also obvious that the adults weren't going to fly any closer than the middle post. So I opted to take a walk down to the Warbler Hide.

I had quite a fruitful walk down to the Hide. Just outside the Kingfisher Hide, a Green Nettle Weevil was seen. A few Orange Tips fluttered by, some posing. Then a House Sparrow, beakful of flies, posed for me, before flying off.

A little further on and a Mint Leaf Beetle was seen. There was plenty of Ladybird action along here. Three Blue-tailed Damselflies flew up, as I walked past. Then I spotted a male Banded Demoiselle, sitting on a leaf, by the stream. As I positioned myself for a photo, the female appeared, higher up. I managed a few shots, before both of them floated over to the other side of the stream.

Even further on, a Large Red and another Blue-tailed damselfly appeared. However, the wind was picking up now, making photography rather difficult. The clouds were also starting to roll in and the light started to fade.

Just before I reached the Warbler Hide, I spotted 3 Hairy dragonflies, hawking up and down the stream. Unfortunately, as with earlier sightings, they didn't perch and pose.

I sat down in the Warbler Hide and looked out. Not much was to be seen, other than the newly-arrived Redpoll Cattle, 7 of them. On the adjacent field there were 6 Konik Ponies. One other birder had just left, seeing only a Grey Heron and a Reed Bunting. Lunch.

A few more people arrived, saying that this was their first visit to Reserve. I inadvertently advised them to pay a visit to HMWT Amwell, saying that, in my humble opinion, it was a much better place for wildlife.

Just as I said that, a Hobby appeared, giving some great views, hunting back and forth, over the field. A Kestrel then appeared, out to the left, hovering, as is their wont. A Buzzard could be seen, higher up, gliding the thermals. Finally, a Sedge Warbler and a Reed Bunting appeared on the reeds, just in front of the Hide, also giving great views. All in the space of 10 minutes.

I'd already had lunch, but maybe I could squeeze in a slice of humble pie. Although I was a little occupied withdrawing foot from mouth.

On the way back to the Kingfisher Hide, I spotted what was probably the same Hairy dragonfly and female Banded Demoiselle. Although I didn't hang around, as I wanted to experiment with the 2x extender again.

The same crowd were still in situ. One or two faces had left, but it was essentially as you were. The experiment with the extender wasn't a resounding success. Maybe I'll leave it at home, from now on. The Kingfishers weren't as active as before and so I headed off around 4-ish.

I paid a visit to the Draper Hide again, via the summer route, after not seeing too much else on the way back. 'Oneshank' was still around, hopping away. Unfortunately, it'll probably get predated soon. The sun came out again, briefly, but no birds swam in close to the Hide.

I walked back to the Visitor Centre, again noting the absence of any Water Voles at the 'corner'. The Kingfishers will probably fledge in the next few days or so, but I won't be back until the next quarter. It was a nice day out, but I think Amwell still has the edge.

I managed to finally remove my foot from my mouth, before walking back to the Station.


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