Well the volunteer work parties are still busy working away on the new Kingfisher bank at the Draper hide and the nesting area should be completed next week.
Yesterday we took a break for the kingfisher bank to position 7 of the old style tern rafts on lagoon 2 (tern hide) in a block. This is a continuation of the work we have been carrying out for the last few seasons to try and reach a balance between nesting Common Terns and Black Headed Gulls.
We have found that the Black Headed Gulls like to nest up against objects such as fences, chick shelters or numbered stones whereas the Terns prefer the more open areas. Last year we designed and constructed a new raft that was larger and more open to benefit the Terns and lower in the water and designed to look more natural from a visitor point of view. This was positioned on the lagoon at the same time as a block of four of the old style rafts were positioned representing the same surface area.
Rafts positioned for summer 2013 with the new style raft on the back right and block of rafts on back left and loafing rafts in the forground.
The Common Terns are not due back until around the second week in April although in recent years this has been getting later and later. In the mean time the much earlier nesting Black Headed Gulls should start getting down to business soon, i have already seen a pair displaying on the rafts today.
The contractors have finished re-landscaping the Draper scrape, so we are hoping to see some migrant waders taking advantage of this area over the coming months. So an area to keep an eye on.
Sightings wise the Kingfishers are still showing well at the Kingfisher Hide nesting bank sitting in the elder to the left of the bank, preening and investigating the holes, although their preferred one still seems to be the middle row left hand hole. It should not be long now before they start egg laying. Buzzards have also been putting in a good show this week with 2-4 regularly seen circling over the reserve and calling a great mewing call, one of my favourites.
The reserve is definatly in spring mode with pussy willow and black thorn in bloom and a number of species such as Song Thrush, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Cettis Warbler, Great tit and Reed Bunting setting up territories. We are just awaiting the return of the early migrants such as Sand martins or may be a passing Wheatear. So it is a great time to come out and have a look around Rye Meads while enjoying this spring sunshine.
We hope to see you soon.
Despite the change in the weather today from such a beautiful spring day yesterday there is still plenty happening on site.
The kingfishers are continuing to be very active around the nest bank and are still favouring the left hand hole on the middle row and the female is often perched on the elder at the left hand end of the bank. The Kestrels look to be settling on the top nest box on the pylon at the kingfisher hide despite its dilapidated state and there being 2 other options (one just below there prefered choice and the other on the pylon in the car park, which they have used to roost in over the winter) in better condition. On the meadow good numbers of shoveler and teal were joined by 3 wigeon and 2 little egrets. Two oystercatchers appeared on Draper for most of the morning before moving to the gadwall hide where they joined shelduck, snipe and lapwing. Gold crest and chiff chaff were seen by many just outside the visitor centre near the boardwalk.
During the close up walk last night the volunteers spotted a group of 10 yellow hammers congregating on a hawthorn bush before dropping in to the reedbed near the ashby hide to roost. Also seen were a fox, redwing and group of field fare.
We hope to see you soon
I hope you have managed to get out and about this afternoon to enjoy the lovely spring sunshine.
It is well worth a visit to Rye Meads if you do get out as there is defiantly a spring feel in the air. There are beutiful white snow drops and cheery yellow crocus in bloom around the visitor centre, chiff chaff, cettis and reed bunting singing and the BIG news is a pair of KINGFISHERS investingating the nest bank at the kingfisher hide, as i write. Visitors today have been rewarded with lovely views of the pair perched around the nest bank and investigating the largest hole at the left hand end of the middle row. We have even got some great views on the camera in the visitor centre. Marvelous!
Other sightings today have included 40+ snipe from the gadwall hide, these birds can be a bit tricky to catch up with as they hide in amongst the clumps of reeds and then come out to feed, so timing is key. There are still good numbers of lapwing using this area along with shelduck, shoveler and gadwall. The meadow is still flooded, though water levels have definatly gone down from there peak and lots of our usual winter waterfowl are enjoying this new feature along with the occasional extra visitor in the form of a male pintail or a couple of wigeon. The black headed gulls are all starting to get the colour in their heads and hanging around the lagoon where we put the rafts (a job for us in early march). Along the trails today there have been goldfinch and bullfinch and kestrel hovering around the visitor centre.
Work is continuing on the construction of the new kingfihser bank visible from the Draper hide and we have finished off the base today with a cap of concrete, we now get to the key part of actually building the areas where the kingfishers will nest! The kingfishers like to nest quite high above the water line and as the waterlevels in this area can fluctuate 90cm from lowest summer levels to highest winter levels we have to have a quite tall base to ensure the nesting area does not flood. This bank is being built to a new design that we are hoping will look more natural, fingers crossed. We are going to have a combination of artifical holes (with a hope for future nest cames!) and blocks of sand for the kingfishers to excavate themselves. We are also constructiong a bat hibernaculum on the back of the nesting bank in the hope of attracting bats such as daubentons to hibernate here in the winter. I have to give a great big shout out to all the work party volunteers as they have been beavering away in gooey mud and clay in this appaling weather putting in wall footings and building wallls sometimes under water! So a great big THANKYOU to all of them for all their hard work in less that stellar condtions. We just hope the kingfishers appreciate it!!!