Rye Meads Ringing Group - Nestbox watch
An update on our ringing event on Saturday 14 May.. this has now been moved to the new date of Saturday 21 May to accommodate for the majority of birds being old enough to ring on the day. Many apologies for any inconvenience and we hope to see many of you there. The time remains the same, 1 - 3 pm.
Photographic workshop - Saturday 30 April
1 space remaining on this all day workshop on Saturday with professional photographer Tom Mason. Call 01992 708381 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like the place.
International Dawn Chorus Day - Sunday 1 May
Spaces still remain to join us for our International Dawn Chorus day walk, plus continental breakfast! If you don't mind getting up early and would love to hear the sound of birdsong taking over the reserve as the sun comes up, this is for you!
Rye Meads Big Litter Pick - Saturday 7 May
We need your help! Come and help us clean up the local area and prevent our litter damaging wildlife. All day, all hands on deck!
Thought you might appreciate a small update on unusual and less unusual sightings we've had lately on the reserve.
First and arguably foremost.. Kingfishers! Our pair settled down to incubate their first clutch on the 8th April, and have been spotted changing over at roughly 2 hourly intervals. So hold out until the start of May for those more frequent sightings!
Kestrels likewise, we think we've got a couple of pairs on eggs/ or nearly on eggs. One at the Kingfisher hide, and one on the pylon in the car park. Keep an eye up in the air while parking your car, and look out for the sign and telescope set up in the car park. Other raptors spotted of late include large numbers of Buzzard, a Peregrine, regular Red Kites, and even our first Hobby, spotted by Jan from the Rye Meads Ringing Group yesterday (20th April).
The reserve is alive with the sound of spring and plenty of warblers, as well as Swallows, House martins, Cuckoos, and our first returning Common Terns. The rafts have gone out for them to breed and elsewhere nests are popping up all over the place, including a potential Jackdaw one. If you look out from the Draper hide, those with keen eyes might have seen that the owl box on the right hand side has had the birds visiting with nest building materials lately, which would be an interesting addition to the breeders on the reserve.
A few weeks ago, Mary and Katy Smith, some of our regular visitors, spotted one of our Kestrels with an unusual and unidentified creature in it's mouth. After verification from members of the Herts Natural History Society and Hertfordshire Mammal, Reptile and Amphibian mapping project, we can confirm that the prey was in fact a Common Lizard. We have never before recorded a Lizard at Rye Meads, and even the nearest record isn't that nearby, so we were very excited to have this confirmed. We hope to set up some more survey days later in the season to see whether we can find some more. It just goes to show how useful you can all be in recording interesting and rare sightings on the reserve, just by being there! If you think you've captured a picture of something interesting or unusual, make sure you send it in to us so we can check it out. Thank you very much Mary and Katy.
Finally, we've had a few sightings of stoat in the past few weeks.. generally around the Draper pond area, and even as far out as the Ashby hide. These are very quick little mammals and you need to have a fast reaction time to get a great picture, but Lynne Blount did just that! She had a really close encounter with this cute little face, and perhaps this year they will breed here again, and give us more sightings as they chase the rabbits about in the car park!
While I'm here, thanks very much to everyone that supported the Funday on Saturday.. despite the cold and drizzle we raised £460 for conservation and the RSPB. And now that the weather is finally warming up, a great time to tell you that we are now offering Ice Creams from the Saffron Ice Cream Company for sale! Just £2 a tub and 6 delicious flavours including Chocolate, Strawberry and Cream, Coffee and Walnut, Vanilla, Mint Chocolate and Sherbet Lemon Sorbet. I know, I've tried them all :D Come along and try them out!
With the return of our first common tern on 13 April, i thought i would give you some information about the common tern nesting rafts we provide for them (and the black headed gulls) to use.
During March the management volunteers had a few busy weeks getting the rafts ready for the breeding season, 100's of black headed gull were already on site waiting expectantly for the rafts and we were not expecting a tern until April.
In preparation for the breeding season we removed two very old and dilapidated loafing rafts from in front of the tern hide and replaced them with one of our new style nesting rafts. This provides a nice large area for gulls and terns not to mention wildfowl to loaf around on and fingers crossed may even bring some nesting nearer to the hide. The management volunteers showed great dedication to duty cleaning off the mud and guano (a lovely odour!) from this raft on a very wet and cold day, so my thanks to them. We then loaded it up with fresh stone and a few chick shelters before positioning it.
Another raft (actually a group of 6 old style rafts) was also positioned on the lagoon and required considerable work, this included removing the internal fences to prevent chicks becoming trapped away from their nest after their first flight, joining the rafts together, repairing rotting floor boards, posts and fences as well as cleaning all the muck and nesting materiel from the stones, a very awkward and labour intensive job.
The black headed gulls are all getting in the swing of the season and quickly made use of the rafts, i expect we'll see nest building starting soon, there is plenty of noisy courtship action already.
We have also just finished constructing a new raft which we will hold back until May to offer the later arriving terns some clear nesting space. So keep an eye out for that and fingers crossed for good numbers of common tern returning to breed this year.