We've stayed open until 6.30 pm for a couple of days, to try and spot the barn owls, and we've been asked to run some more! No guarantees we'll spot these amazing creatures!
So I am delighted to announce that the Draper and Lapwing hides will be open until 6.30 pm on Sunday 4 March, Saturday 10 March, and Sunday 18 March until 6.30 pm. The reserve will open at 10 am as usual and will be closing at 5pm (except for the Draper and Lapwing hides).
With barn owl, kingfisher, fox, smew, goosander, great grey shrike, white tailed eagle, and more been seen on the reserve recently who knows what we'll spot!
Please note: the times maybe subject to change - as it started getting darker later the barn owls will start coming out later... I'll keep you all up to date. Also if the barn owls don't stick about we won't run them!
Liz Warren took this picture of one of our owls when she came along last Sunday!
I hope you are well. Just a quick blog to say that we've spotted the bittern this morning so eyes pealed!
It was spotted over at the Kingfisher hide, then flew over towards the Draper hide. It has been liking the reebed at the Draper hide this season so it might have landed there... Very exciting!
You may know that we have a couple of barn owls onsite!
We've stayed open until 6.30 pm over the past three Sunday's (well the Draper and Lapwing hides are open the rest of the reserve is closed), with the hope that we will see these stunning birds.
It's very exciting for us as this is the first time barn owls have used (or even been any where near) the barn owl boxes. Two or three years ago we had this pair of barn owls that turned up. The whole area had had lots of rain and flooding, so we thing this pair had to abandon their usual hunting grounds as it was flooded, and they found their way here. Well this pair were seen for brilliantly for about two weeks, so we got excited. We made these two barn owl boxes and put them up at the Draper hide, and then the barn owls dissapeared without going any where near the boxes! Typical! It was used by other creatures - kestrels have been seen roosting in the boxes and pigeons.
A month ago a barn owl was seen at the box by two eagle eyed young visitors! One of the lads even managed to get a quick picture with his camera phone to show us!
Since then we found out that their are two birds using the box and they've been seen quite regularly!
Barn owls don't come out until dusk so on a usual Rye Meads day (we close at 5pm) we don't get to see these stunning birds... we were asked by visitors could we stay open until later in the day to hopefully see these fabulous birds, and we've been doing just that!
Over the past three weekends the Lapwing and Draper hides have been open until 6.30 pm (it's these two hides as they are the ones that you can see the boxes from). Lots of people have seen the barn owls and some lucky visitors even managed to get a few pictures - lets have a look:
Picture by Andy Johnson
Picture by Yusuf Akhtar
Yusuf even managed to get some lovely footage from his visit to Rye Meads. Check it out - there's watervole, kingfisher, fox and the barn owls! Yusuf is a young photographer and film maker, if you want to have a look at more pictures from Yusuf click here
Yusuf took some lovely pictures of the view from the Draper hide through the evening so have a look at these:
How are you all today?
Have you had a look at the blog that I wrote earlier today - the great grey shrike was about again on Saturday! There are some nice pictures, check it out!
Today we've had some lovely views of the kingfisher. The male has been abbout, sitting on the posts. The pair have been seen flirting, they are at the beginning of their courtship - possibly a little earlier than usual, but fingers crossed we'll have a good breeding year! Kingfisher picture taken last week at the kingfisher bank by Brenda Clayton
A great crested grebe has been seen from the Draper hide today. Now, we do get great crested grebes on site - but they are usually on the lagoon that doesn't have a hide over looking it. To see a bird at the Draper hide is quite unusual! Great crested grebe
Keep a look out on here for some barn owl stuff too... I'm going to do another blog shortly with some lovely pictures from our lovely visitors!
You may have seen Joan's blog post about the great grey shrike on Saturday 27 February.
Well I have some pictures that I thought you might like to see, but I will start from the beginning of the story....
So on Saturday 18 February we spotted a grey grey shrike on the reserve on the main track between the Ashby and Lagoon hide. It was a bit flighty and moved about a bit. This was very exciting for us as we don't get them very often!
On Sunday (19 February) we were delighted again with some great views. The bird started on the main path between the Ashby and Lagoon hides, then far end of the lagoon seen from the Tern hide, then across to near the Kingfisher hide, back to the main path and the latest report has been near the Kingfisher hide again! Keith Bedford managed to get a couple of pictures, like this one below: Great grey shrike at Rye Meads on Sunday 19 February, picture taken by Keith Bedford.
Now, after Sunday we didn't see the bird again. The Rye Meads Ringing Group did spot it once on the Thames Water side on Sunday afternoon. After that we didn't see it. Now this bird is quite flighty so it could have been around, just sitting behind some cover so we didn't get to see it.
This Saturday (25 February) the Rye Meads Ringing Group caught the bird. The Ringers are trained and licenced to catch and ring birds. They put small rings on the birds legs - they aren't heavy and they don't restrict movement. The rings are like us wearing a wrist watch. Ringing is a really important technique, it allows each bird to have an individual ring number so if it is seen again it can be found out where it's come from and where it goes to. Ringing can give us really important information about bird populations and movements, and has provided amazing data from around the world. If you would like some more information about the Rye Meads Ringing Group check out their website here. If you are interested in Ringing and want to see the Ringers in action they host events at Rye Meads when they invite the public along to see what they do and get close up views of the birds... keep an eye out as we will be running these events in May, August and September!
Back to the shrike... They caught the shrike and were kind enough to show us. Have a look at these pictures taken by Site Manager Joan Childs:
The Ringers are highly trained, Ringing does not hurt the bird!
Here you can see (from left to right) Toby (one of the Ringers), Andy (one of our volunteers) and Sarah (one of the Ringers) looking at the shrike.
After being released the shrike went and sat in a tree by the Lapwing hide for a while -
HUGE thanks to Toby and Sarah from the Ringing Group who showed us this amazing bird up close!
So keep an eye out you never know if we'll see it or where it could be!