Haven't we been enjoying some lovely weather.
The early part of April bought us migrating sand martin on 3/4, marsh harrier on 1 and 3/4, willow warbler 3/4, and the first little ringed plover 6/4. Although the highlight for me was a fly over short eared owl. By chance i was out the front of the visitor center talking to a member of the public visiting an event at the speedway and caught sight of this bird being mobbed by a crow. Finishing off my conversation i headed inside to get some binoculars and tell others on site by which time it had passed over the center. Fortunately it remained quite low and did look like it may head on to the meadow, sadly though it circled higher and higher before heading off in a north westerly direction. A treat non the less.
Redshank and oystercatcher have been regulars from the Draper hide through April, which bodes well for at least one of them nesting. A couple of pairs of lapwing have also taken up residence so looking forward to some cute chicks. Snipe were still on site 24/4 though more and more elusive as the month progressed with sightings early on in April from meadow and Draper and Ashby hides, but with latter sightings (mostly of 2) from the Draper hide.
The 10-13 April was key time for migrants coming though with marsh harrier recorded on 10 and 14, the first sedge warbler and swallow along with the second willow warbler and a lovely male wheatear on 10, Mediterranean gull, bearded tit and the first common tern and reed warbler on 12, the second and third little ringed plover of the year for the weekend of the 12 and 13/4 and a pair grey wagtail 12/4.
After the 13 we had a bit of a quiet spell for migrants until 21/4 when i had my first little ringed plover, garden warbler and lesser whitethroat, along with more swallow and common tern sightings as we put out the tern raft. Continued movement occurred on 22/4 with hobby and yellow wagtail recorded and I manged my first hobby of the year the next day, hurrah, i love hobby season. Then almost a year to the day, we had a whimbrel on the Draper 24/4 with last years turning up for our Fun Day 21/4. Is it the same bird passing through on migration?
Butterfly sightings are increasing with regular reports of peacock, small tortoiseshell, large white and comma, and occasional sightings of speckled wood, orange tip (first 13/4)and brimstone (first 7/4). I had my first blue of the year on 21/4 sadly it was a bit quick for me to id, but confirmed sighting next day as common blue, also adding green-veined white to my list on 23/4.
Mammal sightings have been mostly reports of the stoat that has taken up residence around the Lapwing hide and visitor center along with the rabbits. A pair of muntjac were getting frisky on the Draper 24/4 with other sightings around site during the month.
Kingfisher news is sad, however. After a good start to the season with the pair settling down to business well and our note of starting incubation around a week ahead of last year. However from there things went awry. After about 4 days of incubation, where admittedly the female had been behaving very unusually (not wanting to leave the burrow, despite the males many and persistent attempts to get her to leave) we had actually seen a couple of change overs but then the pair started mating again! This was very unexpected and should not have happened if the pair were happily incubating. So what had happened? Sadly we may never now. Since then the pair have continued mating and the male continues to bring the female fish. What has happened to cause this we are unsure but it is possible the first clutch was predated or a collapse occurred in the burrow, although there is no sign of damage or disturbance to the burrow and i feel in this instance the pair would move to another hole for the second clutch, which they do not seem to have done. Another option is that the female is not actually laying eggs, this would account for the continued mating, if this is the case i do not know how long they will persevere with out laying a clutch. If the male was infertile incubation would have started and actually been prolonged until they gave up on the eggs hatching. So we are continuing in a holding pattern to see if we have a classic change over in the next few days/week, which would mean they were laying a second clutch, if not we may have a season with no kingfishers fledged, very sad.
Just a quick update on the kingfishers, to say currently we don't know whats going on!!
Last week we were sure that incubation had started although the female did seem very reluctant to leave the nest chamber when the male came to do a change over. And we had calculated hatching to be around 12-14 April. However yesterday at 3.30 and again this morning we have seen the pair mating. Once a clutch is laid and incubation has started the pair no longer mate, they both spend time incubating while the other feeds for the 19-21 day incubation. Therefore either we miss read the signs (the pair were changing over for some other reason) and they had not finished laying the clutch or something has happened to the clutch.
We will keep an eye on activity over the next few days and let you know once we are sure whats going on.
Thanks very much
We are opening a seasonal trail tomorrow, the first of April 2015!
This will allow you access to an area of site not usually open to the public. The trail follows access usually used in the winter by heavy machinery such as a digger clearing out ditches or the Truxor cutting reedbed and for management work. Therefore it undulates and does not have a laid surface and may not be accessible to all, so please watch your footing to ensure you do not trip. The trail takes you through and around the reedbed of the Lee Marsh so you can immerse yourself in the song of the returning warblers, view up hidden channels in the reedbed and catch a glimpse of the River Lee.
For those of you who know the site well, the trail starts at the culvert (before the Tern and Gadwall hides) on the left, heads towards the river lea before taking a sharp right along the river with the reedbed on your right. The trail finishes and joins back up with the main path at the end of the kingfisher boardwalk. Please ensure you stick to the marked route when using this trail and we hope you enjoy it.
Sorry we have not updated the community blog for a while but you can always keep up to date with us on other social media channels such as twitter @RSPBRyeMeads or Facebook RSPB three counties.
A few waders on the Draper this month including oystercatcher 2 on and off between 15/3 and 21/3, redshank 1-3 between 13 and 30 March also 2-4 lapwing, little egret 9 March. Snipe in varying numbers (up to 6 on Draper) and locations including meadow, Draper and Ashby. Shelduck have increased to 2 pairs on site and i am looking forward to some cute shelduck ducklings. An unusual sighting for us was a great crested grebe 15/3. Warbler wise cettis and chiff chaff regularly calling but we are still waiting for the return of some other migrants. Stonechat have been passing through in ones or twos over the month mostly on the meadow. We have had a variety of gulls on site with a pair of herring gull returning to Draper on 22/3 and moving around site sine then. Lesser black back and common gull along with plenty of black headed gulls are also present on site. The nesting rafts for the gulls were put out on the lagoon at Tern Hide 17 march and the black headed gulls have taken up residence quickly. We have kept the new style raft at shore and will position it in April when the common terns return. The kestrels have taken up residence in their usual box at the Kingfisher hide, sparrowhawks are on site, buzzards regularly over and occasional red kite.
Kingfishers have been very active courting since 1st march and incubation of the first brood has started so we have a quieter period of activity until 12-14 April when we expect the eggs to hatch which will be followed by fleding 24-26 days.
Stoat have been showing regualrly in march around lapwing hide, visitor center and water vole corner. Muntjac continue to be a regular on site with fox an occasional sighting.
Small tortoiseshell and comma through month and first speckled wood on 28/3