Just a quick reminder of the last few events we have running at Rye Meads this year.
We're counting down to Father Christmas visiting the reserve on Saturday and Sunday, and all the other festivities that will be going on all weekend. Make sure you come down and take a break from Christmas shopping!
We will be running natural Christmas craft sessions in the classrooms during both Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st afternoons where you can make pretty, natural tree and Christmas decorations with our very own elves. Perfect for some personalised Christmas gifts. Santa will be hiding in his special grotto out on the reserve between 2 and 4 pm both days and you can pop in and see him, spot some wildlife, and get a present! Finally, our reserve guide Andy will be running the regular wildlife walk starting at 2 pm on Saturday, and seeing what winter nature he can find!
Rye Meads will be closed on Christmas and Boxing day only as normal, and all services will be resumed on Saturday 27th when Lee and Anne will be running hide watch between 2 - 4 pm.
Finally, don't forget to join us to shake off the Christmas excess on Friday 2nd January for our long winter walk. This will start and end at the reserve, but be offsite on public footpaths so dogs are very welcome. Remember to wrap up warmly, bring lunch, and we'll enjoy mince pies and warm drinks back at the centre when we finish!
Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.
The last few mornings have been glorious with heavy frost , blue sky and sun creating some great conditions. It really feels like winter now. The car park has become a popular area with thrushes as redwing, blackbird, song thrush and fieldfare all enjoy the hawthorn berry crop. The teasels have offered food to a nice goldfinch flock and a number of mixed tit flocks do the rounds of the hedges and feeders. With robin, wren and dunnock also joining in often rooting around the herb garden, or under hedges.
As i came past the sewage works this morning the sun was rising through the trees, frost on the ground and wisps of mist rising from the tanks it created a beautiful scene, very atmospheric. So i picked up the camera and went back to take a photo, sadly my picture, below, does not do it full justice.
I managed to get out and about for a wonder on Monday. We should maybe consider renaming the Tern hide in the winter to the Coot hide, as i counted 293 coots! I cant be sure this is exact as they were pretty mobile but still a great number. With the angle of the sun although it looked really pretty it did make the birds mostly silhouettes so the id and counts were fun! But i did manage to get on this lagoon 66 gadwall, 18 tufted duck, 26 black-headed gulls, 5 mute swan, 3 canada goose, 2 little grebe, 2 mallard and 6 shoveler. It was quite a spectacle and quite full!
Not to be out done the Gadwall hide also produced some nice counts with 372 lapwing, male pintail, 7 common gull, kingfisher and 90 teal. The Draper hide offered 37 teal, cettis warbler, 2 bullfinch and 3 fieldfare. And a nice treat to the end of the walk was 2 low flying red kite as i came back past the Ashby hide.
Other sightings from Monday included magpie, moorhen, robin, blackbird, great tit, teal, cormorant, starling, green woodpecker, great spotted wood pecker, pheasant, bullfinch, crow, wood pigeon, wren, pied wagtail, fieldfare, blue tit, redwing, dunnock, long tailed tit, goldfinch, reed bunting, pochard, song thrush, greenfinch, chaffinch, canada goose, gadwall, tufted duck, kestrel, mallard, green sandpiper, collard dove and song thrush.
With winter now obvious in the weather we have been continuing on with our winter program of habitat management and today were were out cutting the vegetation in front of the kingfisher hide. This work opens up views into pools that had been hid among the sedge, as well as clearing a view through the phragmites (reed) to the ditch at the back of the compartment in the hope that a bittern might use this area, while also offering views of water rail, water vole (if not too chilly) and may be green sandpipers if they pop in. Clearing the vegetation will also remove the leaf litter layer and help prevent the fen drying out and trees such as willow or sallow becoming established. We have a bit more work to do clearing the cuttings into habitat piles plus clearing the vegetation around the camera and the kingfisher bank ready for next summer. Other work in this area includes cutting views in to the reedbed from the boardwalk and pollarding the sallows and willows at the start of the boardwalk to prevent blocking flight paths and create a diverse structure. So plenty to keep us going.
We hope to see you soon, but please be aware that with the forecast for gales towards the end of the week that this may lead to the reserve closing if the gales are particularly strong but we will keep you up to date with any closures here as well as via facebook and twitter, so keep an eye on these.
We will be changing our closing time to 4.15 from tomorrow, as it is getting dark earlier.
Thanks very much
Only the weekend left and then its December! Then before you know it another year will be over.
I popped the moth trap on over night and was rewarded with the aptly named December moth.
Once we finished working on the Draper area we started to gradually increase the water level in order to mimic natural winter flooding. This has proved popular with teal as they are feeding on the seeds as they start to float in the rising water, meadow pipits have also been rooting around on the islands and the reedbed at the back is just waiting for a wintering bittern.
As a warning, we are currently having problems with a section of the path flooding, due to a blocked ditch. The ditch is due to be cleared out in early January so please be aware there is likely to be wet areas on the path as you approach the tern and gadwall hides until that time.
The next area to have its "winter hair cut" by the Tuesday and Thursday management work parties will be the vegetation in front of the kingfisher hide and the adjacent reedbed. With the wet weather and high water levels it could be a bit of a muddy job!
Recent sightings have included kingfishers (yes multiple), good numbers of lapwing often doing some fancy aerobatics as the sparrowhawk pays a visit, green sandpiper, common gull, wigeon, shoveler, teal, the male pintail is still about, multiple water rail showing well at both Ashby and Gadwall hides, a pair of grey wagtails often pop in to the car park area or the Gadwall hide, meadow pipit, cettis warbler, male blackcap, bullfinch, gold crest, field fare, redwing and yellowhammer coming to roost.