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
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