So, following on from our last post a couple of days ago, it seems that our Kingfisher pair have successfully thrown us all off the scent yet again! In latest developments it seems that possibly their first brood of the year have actually hatched within the last few days and they are now actively feeding the youngsters!!
[Photo: Keith Bedford]
Most people will know that we got off to quite a shaky start this season.. thinking they were incubating.. thinking they weren't.. and in the end unsure what on earth was going on! Were the couple having problems? Had she become too old to breed anymore? Had they had enough of bringing up kids?!
Eventually, during the week we were able to confirm that the pair were finally sitting on eggs and it looked as if we would have some chicks after all.. however what we didn't bank on was that they might have been incubating for longer than we thought! The incubation period for kingfishers is around 19 - 21 days so if they had been sitting since the 24th April, they could feasibly have hatched chicks by now, and this looks like it might be the case. Watchers in the hide have seen fairly regular sightings of the parents going into the nestbank over the last few days, more than would be expected if they were still incubating, and sometimes taking in fish with them. This seems to have started sometime between Wednesday and Friday. At this early stage we must stress that this still isn't 100% conclusive, and when chicks are very tiny they won't need much in the way of fish to keep them going, but hopefully as we get into next week, we may get better evidence that this is the case. A big thanks to the kingfisher team Simon, Brian, Ray and friends who are often down in the hide monitoring the situation and have kept us up to date.
So this looks like it could be fantastic news! And it also means that now marks the start of a great time to come down and see some kingfishers. Visitors over the weekend have had some nice sightings of the birds to-ing and fro-ing with beakfuls of fish, and this looks set to increase as any little ones grow. We have worked out an estimated fledging date of between 7 - 9 June if they have indeed already started feeding, and we will of course keep you in the loop if anything changes (which may well be the case as this year they seem intent on keeping us guessing!!)
Of course if anyone observes something contradictory or notices anything else that may help us decide what's going on then please do report it at the desk - the more eyes the better!
Migrants continue to pass through site with a whimbrel on Draper 24 April (in 2014 we had a whimbrel stop off on the day of our first Fun Day 21 April so only a few days late this year), 2 whinchats on the meadow 25 and 26 April and 1 female on 27 April, again the Draper gave us dunlin, 4 little ringed plover and 2 redshank on 26 April with a cuckoo reported on the same day, common sandpiper and little ringed plover reported on 28, 30 April and 6 May and pair redshank remain in residence. A lovely summer plumage dunlin spent 13 May on the Draper with little ringed plover on 14 and 15 May. Up to 9 hobby were recorded on 13 May. After a year with no sightings it was nice to have some reports of turtle dove however brief, with a fly over on 26 April along with a sighting of a bird on the sewage works site from the same day by on of the RMRG.
Damselflies and dragonflies are starting to emerge with large red damselfly, and a female azure damselfly on 8 May, a female broad-bodied chaser and four-spot chaser on 11 May and a hairy dragonfly on 10 May. I had my first painted lady of the year (and last year) on 12 May and a better quantity of moths in the trap on the 13 May with 13 species including poplar hawk, common wave, bright line brown eye and flame shoulder.
The herb garden became home to a family of rabbits with at least 2 babies and mum having a nose round when it was quiet until (we think) a fox discovered them and dug its way in to the warren. However this does mean that the new herbs i planted have a bit more change of survival as they are not getting quite as nibbled, but it does mean no more cute baby rabbits.
Our annual dawn chorus event on International Dawn Chorus Day 3 May was looked toward with a bit of trepidation as the forecast was for heavy rain. However we persevered and all participants braved the early morning and weather which was pretty wet and we were able to hear a lovely dawn chorus, even if the rising of the sun only led to a lightening of the murk. We managed some good sightings including 7 species warbler, bullfinch, green woodpecker, cukoo and common tern. Just before heading back to the visitor center for a breakfast of croissants, bagels, crumpets and brioche we stopped off in the Draper hide to have a look at any waders that may have been about and were rewarded with 8 black tern an amazing sighting! They were quite flighty coming in to land only to be spooked and circle again, sadly they did not hang around for long and headed off. We then had a look round the rest of the Draper scrape and came up with 2 greenshank and were able to add a fly over yellow wagtail after that. So all in all worth the 4.30 start and a bit of rain.
Tom Spellers lovely shot of the 8 Black Terns
Exciting news on the Kingfisher front as well! Our pair seem to have sorted themselves out and are incubating again! (Hurrah). With the very unusual behavior and false start in April we we wanted to be sure before announcing the new this time. But we have had a solid week of changeovers so we are convinced that incubation is under way, however we are unsure on the exact start date. So with a 19 - 21 day incubation we are looking for hatching around the end of the month (27-29) but it could be as early as weekend of 23 May. So fingers crossed.
With election day nearly here we just wanted to urge you all to consider nature in your decision tomorrow, and encourage our leaders to act on preserving countryside and creating homes for nature throughout the country. You have just today left to Vote for Bob the little red squirrel, so if you haven't done so it's well worth doing to show that we stand together to support birds and other wildlife, and that we want nature high on the government's list of priorities!
Click the link here to register your support: https://www.voteforbob.co.uk/petition/
Let's stand together for our beautiful natural environment, just as this Robin at Rye Meads does! Photo taken on the reserve by fishboy1960Kev