I hope that you are all well.Just a quick blog post to let you know the highlights from yesterday.
The ruff was still showing well from the Draper hide (I haven't been out yet to see if it is still there today).
The kingfishers were seen quite well yesterday. They've been fishing at the Draper and Ashby hides. We are pretty sure that the pair at the Kingfisher Hide are sitting on eggs.
The garganey was spotted from the Draper Hide yesterday. It's a young male or a female.
A hobby was spotted flying over the wet meadow across to the Draper hide.
The elephant hawk moth caterpillars are still at the pond near the Visitor Centre.
Oh and there is an aylesbury duck (a white domestic duck) is at the Draper hide.
The other highlight of the day was people telling me they read and like the blog :)
See you soon, Lou
I hope you are all well.
Today we've had a couple of nice sightings - ruff (first spotted yesterday, to read the blog from when we first spotted with pictures click here)
We also had lovely viewsof a fall of warblers!
Good morning everyone. I hope you are all well.
So, welcome to the next "People at Rye Meads" blog post! You know, there is more to a nature reserve than just the nature! There are just under 100 volunteers and staff that keep this fantastic nature reserve in shape! So this is where you come to find out more!
This installment of "People at Rye Meads" is an interview with one of the two Lead Volunteers, Keith! Here we go:
This is Keith (and you can see my cute little niece peeping round the corner!) you've probably seen him at Rye Meads he's here alot doing a variety of jobs for us!
Keith, what do you do at Rye Meads?I’m one of the volunteers here at Rye Meads. I design and supervise new structures such as boardwalks or hide extensions on the reserve. In the past I have done everything from chain sawing to building hides, but now I advise the other volunteers that go out and do all of that. I’ve been roped into being an Assistant Leader for the reserve’s Wildlife Explorers Club and kids holiday scheme [editors note: he loves it really!], and you can often find me on the reception desk meeting the public as they come to the reserve - if any of our reception volunteers cancel I usually get a phone call!
How long have you been working at Rye Meads?I have been here 36 years! I’ve gone from one day a week volunteering to what feels like eight days a week, and enjoy every moment!
Here Keith is being presented with his 35 year volunteer award by Nick Bruce-White, who was our RSPB Area Manager (he now works in the North of England)
Why did you decide to volunteer at Rye Meads?Kevin, who was the Warden at the time, talked me into it! It didn’t take much persuasion!
What do you enjoy most and least about your job?Working with the lovely staff and volunteers at the reserve! It’s such a great reserve. Conservation is really important, so it’s great to be doing something to help wildlife that can also inspire others, especially children. I haven’t got a least!
What other jobs have you done?I started off when I left school in a drawing office designing sack trucks and things. I then went onto working for the Air Ministry at Head Quarters Coastal Command designing airfields etc. I then did my two years National Service in the Air Force at Topcliff in Yorkshire, a Coastal Command station. The next 20 years I spend sitting behind a desk doing accounting work for BP Tanker Company. After volunteering for redundancy I became a house husband, which allowed me to spend time at the reserve.
There’s two very important design projects you’ve done for the reserve – tell us about them!Well, about 25 years ago one of the volunteers (now a Reserves Ecologist for the RSPB) drew a little picture on the back of a cigarette packet and said to me “we want something like this!” I then went away and developed the idea and drew up the drawings which turned into our now well established tern rafts! The design was so good that it’s been used all over the country! We’ve built them for a reserve in Oxford, the Lee Valley, and for somewhere up north. Common terns used to nest on the shingly meanders of rivers before the banks were controlled by concrete or metal piling. When the river banks became managed like this the terns didn’t have anywhere to nest, so the Rye Meads Ringing Group came up with these makeshift rafts which we then developed.
These are the rafts that the common terns breed on.
The other one is what the reserve is well known for – kingfishers! Kingfishers naturally nest in muddy riverbanks, but as mentioned before with the management of river banks they no longer had so many places to breed. Kevin (the warden I was talking about earlier) had this idea about using a digger to try and create a vertical bank for the kingfishers to use. This turned out not to be successful, so he asked me to design an artificial bank as close to natural conditions as we could get - i.e. sand that the kingfishers could make their own holes in rather than artificial holes. There are now other designs of kingfisher bank, most have the holes already in, but we decided that ours wouldn’t as digging the holes is part of the kingfisher courting ritual. So in 1990 we built the original bank, we tweaked the design about five or six years later. We built the bank in March, the perfect time as kingfishers would start to look for nesting places. Having constructed the sand layer on top of the concrete base we took down the shuttering from the front ready to complete the roof, went for coffee, and on our return discovered a kingfisher busily digging its hole! Consequently we had to complete the roof in the autumn after they had finished nesting. Since then most years the kingfishers have used the bank successfully having up to three broods a year. The design has been used in various places around the country, and the design has even been used in Southern Ireland. The kingfisher bank in Ireland is on Druid’s Glen Golf Course, it was so successful that they invited me over for the weekend to have a look at it insitu. When I was there I spotted a kingfisher taking a fish in to the young! I ended up being interviewed on Irish radio because of it’s success!
This is the kingfisher bank as it looks today, you can see this from the Kingfisher Hide!
What is your favourite hobby?It’s a combination of bird watching and photography – in other words photographing birds! I have been lucky enough to go on wildlife holidays in places as varied as Galapagos Islands, Africa and India - I took loads of pictures on these holidays. One of my other main hobbies is filming wildlife so you can imagine me on a safari with a video camera in one hand and still camera in the other! It’s quite fun, and has been successful, I’ve got some nice pictures and films of wildlife. This is a stunning picture of a snipe that Keith took here at Rye Meads. Can you see the bend in the beak? Amazing, snipe can do that to help them catch the invertebrates deep in the mud!
What got you into wildlife?I’ve always been into wildlife – I remember my Mum taking us out for country walks, I think that’s what started me off.
What is your favourite creature and why?Erm... my favourite creature is... erm... I love elephants, but I love the cats as well... I don’t know why I love elephants – they’re big and wild and just amazing. The big cats are amazing, powerful and graceful...But in fact my real favourite creature is the spotted hyena, but don’t ask me why they just are!
I hope you enjoyed this installment of "The People of Rye Meads"!
See you later, Lou :)