We've been getting ready for the Big Garden Birdwatch here this weekend! Wildlife Explorer's Club were out improving their observation skills yesterday with a special un-nature trail, and even though it started to snow, they still managed to spot most of the items hidden in the wildlife garden! But it still goes to show how easily you can miss things that are right in front of your eyes!
We practiced our garden bird ID skills and then created this fantastic mural with wildlife we thought we might see during the survey next weekend!
Hopefully you have all registered to take part and record all the birds in your own garden for one hour at the weekend (24th and 25th January) and if not you can do so here: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/. If you are not lucky enough to have a garden, or anywhere to put feeders out, you can always come down to us and record your sightings from our bird feeders from the visitor centre. There will be friendly reserve guide faces on hand in the classrooms all day Saturday and Sunday, who will give you a hand if you need it. Then just submit your results and we'll find out trends of birds throughout the country! In addition, Tina returns with her art and craft club from 12 - 3.30 pm on Saturday to help you make something to attract more birds to your garden.
If you would like your child to take part in the Wildlife Explorer's Club (aimed at ages 6 to 12), we run on Saturdays from 11 am - 1 pm. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for more details.
We're slowly getting back into gear at Rye Meads after the Christmas break, and despite a weekend where the weather spent one entire day pouring with rain on us, and one day where the entire reserve was shrouded in freezing fog (!) we managed to gather a reasonable list of sightings together, including: Snipe, Water rail, Kingfisher, Goldcrest, Pintail, Sparrowhawk, a pair of Bullfinch and exceptional views of a resident Water vole eating apples on the floating platform.
We've got a range of new events and activities coming up over the next couple of months so keep your eyes peeled on the website here:
as they will all be added in the next week! Some of the main things are our new preschool 'Messy welly' sessions starting on Wednesday 21 January and our BIG GARDEN BIRDWATCH weekend on 24/25 January. Plus, don't forget our young Wildlife Explorer's Club which is on the third Saturday of each month from 11 am - 1 pm, aimed at 6 years old upward, but all welcome if accompanied by an adult.
On Friday we trialed our first group hike of the local area, starting at the centre, following the river to Amwell - Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust nature reserve, then up and round Easneye Woods on public footpaths and back across farmland by Hunsdon before reaching the toll road and following it back to Rye Meads for tea and mince pies 10 miles later! We were incredibly lucky with bright sunny weather and clear blue skies, and only a spattering of mud underfoot, and we were rewarded with sightings of over 43 bird species! These included close up views of Buzzard and Red Kite as they circled over us, a Kestrel hunting, Sparrowhawk, House sparrow, Grey wagtail, Shelduck, Great crested grebe, Wigeon, Pochard, Lapwing, Carrion crow, Grey partridge, Redwing, Fieldfare, Kingfisher and a tame Robin. If this sounds appealing, then keep an eye out for other similar walks coming up this year. Here are a couple of photos our volunteer Helen Jones took of the day. For more see RSPB Three Counties on Facebook!
Happy New Year, and see you all soon!
The work parties have been busy this week clearing views into the reedbed near the kingfisher hide and off the boardwalk. Cutting the vegetation in front of the kingfisher hide has opened up a few pools and ditches that have been hidden away for a while and we have cleared the vegetation from around the nesting bank and the CCTV camera, ready for the 2015 breeding season. While working in this area we were lucky enough to get sightings of kingfisher, red kite, cetti's warbler, water rail (heard), reed bunting, kestrel and lapwing to name a few.
On Monday visitors reported a bittern from the Ashby hide, yey our first for this winter! I went down later in the afternoon (and on and off over the week) for a look but sadly no luck although the lowering sun created quite an atmosphere and teal, coot, muntjac, little grebe, cetti's warbler, fox and great spotted woodpecker kept me entertained.
The lapwings were very restless yesterday from the Gadwall hide spending lots of time wheeling around in the sky, if this was due to the wind or a predator I am sure but some sought refuge on the islands from the Draper hide along with a nice group of shoveler, teal and gadwall, plus a few tufted duck, mallard, little grebe and up to 2 water rail have been showing over the last week. A fox was exploring the Draper quite casually over the weekend, stopping and sitting in the sun and then continuing to root around the edges of the vegetation, offering nice views to visitors on Saturday and Sunday.
A female peregrine put on a nice display from the Gadwall hide on Sunday 14th. She stooped catching a moorhen, carrying it off and gaining height she then dropped the moorhen which escaped off in to the vegetation. This offered great viewing to visitors as well as 2 of our volunteers Derrick and Sue as they were carrying out a wildlife watch from the Gadwall hide.
Other sightings include a shelduck which has been present from the Gadwall hide since 17th along with the male pintail which is continuing to show well. Three bullfinch were recorded along the trail on 17th and 2 goldcrest on 15th, 2 snipe 14th and jay, redwing, fieldfare and goldfinch all week.
Just a reminder that we will be closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day, but we hope to see you over the festive period or New Year.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year