Spring is definitely in the air today, a beautiful frosty morning with blue skies and sunshine! The last few weeks have seen plenty of spring signs emerging with the arrival of the pure and pristine snowdrops, buds bursting on the sallows revealing the pussy willow inside, leaves emerging on the hawthorns, and birds singing- claiming their territory and announcing "I am here!" We even have some blackthorn in blossom.
Sorry we haven't blogged in a while, it has all been a bit hectic, but we're back to fill you in on all the recent goings on on the reserve!
We have some lovely snowdrops nodding under the hedge of the wildlife garden, while the garden itself offers any early insects a couple of varieties of the early flowering hellebore along with slightly rabbit-eaten primroses and crocuses.
The offending ditch has been cleared out allowing water levels to drop and stop the path flooding as you approach the Tern and Gadwall hides, the path is now drying out, surely much quicker once it stops raining! There is still just one muddy section. With the arrival of spring we are winding down our habitat management work and preparing for the breeding season. Our next big job is to clean and fix up the the gull and tern nesting rafts before we start putting them out on the lagoon, and to do a bit of work on the loafing rafts. Spring also means changes to water levels on site as we raise the levels on lagoon 1 ready for its' wildfowl breeding population. The water on Draper has also started to be lowered to provide muddy areas for migrating waders, and we will continue to gradually drop these throughout the summer to keep fresh areas of mud.
Recent sightings have included Green sandpiper on the Draper in the last few days, Oystercatcher and Dunlin on 14 and 15 of Feb, Cetti's starting to call back and forth to each other calling their spot and Snipe on the scrape during the middle of the month. We've also had some nice views of Bullfinch, Reed bunting, Redpoll and Grey wagtail around the trails and beside the visitor centre lately, while a Water rail has been showing well over at Lagoon 1 from the Gadwall hide.
A few keen eyes have spotted a Bittern in a number of locations over the month - feeding at the Draper, at the far edge of the Tern lagoon, and even at the Kingfisher hide! We think there may be a couple about but you need a good telescope and a whole bag of patience to get a glimpse!
Other notable reports include a Barn owl over the meadow, 2 Red kites flying over the car park on Saturday, a Mandarin duck and Caspian gull both seen at Gadwall on the 8th, and frequent sightings of both our male and female Kingfisher out and about on the reserve. It seems it will not be long before they start to pair up for mating if this nice weather continues - let's hope all our hard work pays off and we get a second pair interested in the new bank down at the Draper hide!
We try to get a blog out as often as possible, but if you are after more frequent and up to date reports of birds and other wildlife, why not follow our twitter feed? - RSPBRyeMeads. There are posts from here most days and you can rest assured if anything exciting happens, it will be put out on there straight away! You do not even need to sign up to an account to have a look at our feed, try it here: https://twitter.com/rspbryemeads. We will still endeavour to blog whenever we get a chance, but it is a slightly longer process. In addition, we have two facebook accounts where we also regularly post details of upcoming events, happenings and photos from the reserve. Find them at RSPB Rye Meads Nature Reserve and RSPB Three Counties.
Thanks, and look forward to seeing or hearing from you soon!
Debs and Vicky
The paths are all open.
Clearance of the ditch is complete and the blockage has been removed which means the path is no longer flooded, however it is a bit gloopy in places where the digger has been so no white trainers advised. We will endeavor to clear up the worst of the mud and hopefully the rain that is just starting to fall will help wash some away.
Thank you for your patience while this work was carried out we hope to see you soon.
Staff at Rye Meads made green hearts today to support the Climate Coalition's #showthelove campaign, all about the things we love in nature and making sure they are not lost to climate change. You can read more about the idea here: http://www.rspb.org.uk/news/390517-stephen-fry-emilia-fox-alison-steadman-dermot-oleary-david-harewood-jarvis-cocker-and-more-show-the-love-in-ridley-scott-associates-latest-film-