A lovely female marsh harrier has been present on site since Thursday. Spending most of her time hunting over the meadow she was sighted again today buy a couple of visitors. A group of 10 lesser redpoll were reported feeding in the silver birches over the weekend and the male pintail continued to show well from the Gadwall hide. The Gadwall was also the place today for sightings of pintail and an actively fishing kingfisher and a couple grey wagtails which also popped in to the car park for a root around today.
But the big news of the weekend was a great white egret seen heading south over the Draper hide a 16.10 on Saturday evening, probably heading to the heron roost on Netherhall GP. It was seen returning north once again at 6.56 the following morning by members of the ringing group. A first for Rye Meads! So i could not let this opportunity pass by and decided to spend an hour in the Draper hide to see if it once again passed over as it headed to roost.
So i headed up to the Draper hide. On arrival at around 3.40 the starling numbers were already building up on the pylon and provided a near constant squabbling noise as a back drop until heading to roost. I had time to carry out a quick count with a nice 107 teal, 34 gadwall, 14 mallard, 1 mute swan, 19 moorhen, 3 wigeon (1 nice male) 2 coot, 2 female tufted duck, 1 female shoveler, 1 little grebe, green woodpecker, also heard water rail, cettis, robin and meadow pipit. Then the gulls started to stream over head heading to roost on the reservoirs to the south and i had to keep my eyes pealed for the big white! The starling numbers increased to a sqaurking 450+ before splitting in to 2 groups one heading in to roost on the Lee Marsh and the other heading east over the Draper and either on to HMWT or the sewage works to roost. Then a sparrow hawk shot through chased by a crow. Magpie numbers started to build up for roost getting to a whopping 67! Between 16.20 and 16.30 the last of the starlings settled in to the Lee Marsh they had been a bit disrupted which could have been due to the sparrow hawk causing problems and the last few gulls headed over but still no great white. After 16.20 a blackbird started scolding, the lapwing came up off lagoon 1 and headed away to the east in a large low flying flock, 2 cettis warbler had a vocal couple minutes and 2 water rail screamed at each other while some passing snipe gave themselves away by calling as they flew, though i could not pick them up in the growing gloom. The smell of wood smoke appeared in the air and i decided to call it quits and head back to the office at 16.30. Sadly there was no sign of the great white egret this evening, but i did spend an enjoyable hour watching all the wildlife settling in for the night, and that is not to say i wont try again tomorrow!
Join us on Thursday evening from 7 pm when Tom Mason shares with us his stories of a recent trip to Serbia, illustrated with some truly amazing pictures of Long-eared owls!
All ages are welcome and there is tea, coffee and biscuits provided. Arrive 7 pm for a prompt 7.30 pm start. The talk is approximately an hour and a half long and there will be plenty of time for questions and a chat afterwards for those interested in photography tips or finding out how to take the trip themselves. If you are bringing youngsters you should be able to get away by 9 pm though.
Prices: £5 for RSPB members, £8 for non members. For more information or to book a ticket, please call 01992 708381 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Yesterday i spent 2 hours in the Gadwall hide covering one of the regular wildlife watches. It was a lovely morning, some nice wildlife and i got to chat to some visitors. A very obliging grey wagtail kept me company on and off as it kept returning to the stream mouth and shallows in front of the hide hunting for insects. The pintail though still not in full plumage is much more obvious now and was also showing well loafing and feeding straight out from the hide. I counted over 440 lapwing (that was tricky!), others present included snipe, green sandpiper, wigeon, teal, shoveler, tufted duck, mute swan, grey heron, cormorant, common gull, black headed gull, kingfisher, pied wagtail, little grebe, jay, jackdaw, cettis warbler and i heard a couple of water rail but sadly did not catch up with them. Common darter are still holding on in the autumn sunshine and basking in sunny spots.
On my way to the Gadwall hide I picked up a couple of redwing in the hawthorns near the draper hide along with a nice flock of goldfinch and a reed bunting feeding on the seed heads near the draper pond. While in the hide some visitors reported seeing a field fare but i was unable to pick it up on my way back to the visitor center. Though i did add pochard (some stunning looking males on the lagoon visible from the zig zag ramp) green woodpecker and gold crest to the list making a respectable 48 species for 2 and half hours, so a pretty good morning.
Our next wildlife watch is on Sunday 29 November 2-4 pm, Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 10 am-12 pm. Hope to see you then.
In case you had not heard. There have been some unusual birds in the local are recently with a caspian gull joining the roost at Amwell HMWT reserve and a rough-legged buzzard near Braughing, Hay street since 2 November, with short-eared owl in similar area last night. For more information on these sightings see http://www.hnhs.org/birds/ So if you are coming to visit us why not stop off on route and pick up something unusual.