In the last full week of May there’s been plenty happening! Our first Kingfisher brood of the year fledged on Monday with four youngsters finally leaving the nest. One was very reluctant but they’re now all away, and there’s signs of prep for the second brood at the Kingfisher Hub. At the Draper hide there may be signs of hatched young so its all go!

Here are the latest highlights in the next instalment of Mel’s Mutterings – plus highlights from our roving guides Paul, Ann and Lee, and your records from our sightings book in the Visitor Centre!


Mel’s Mutterings – 24th May

So plants were my thinking this week, but that got pushed back due to the arrival of a pair of Black-necked grebes! These are also known as Horned Grebe’s due to their breeding plumage; stunning golden feathers fanned out against the black head & red eyes with chestnut rump flanks. Truly beautiful little birds! After a heavy shower whilst I was keeping dry in the Warbler Hide, the Reed Warbler were showing exceptionally well with a flock of 20 House Martin chattering away while they were hawking insects.

The Red Crested Pochard have bred successfully, initially there were eight young but this has dwindled down to five, one of which may be a Common Pochard from a failed nest spotted by the Rye Meads Ringing Group. The Egyptian Geese are still at the Draper Hide, meanwhile there are increasing numbers of damselflies!

The Black-Necked Grebes! (Credit: Stuart Fox)

The Black-Necked Grebes! (Credit: Stuart Fox) 

Mel’s Mutterings – 25th May

Today is plants day, with your task to look up the brilliantly named Goat’s Beard! This can be seen near the Draper Hide along with some yellow Tormentil being buzzed around by a Scorpion Fly. On the birds front there are huge numbers of Gadwall (70+) and Pochard (30+). With the middle raft at the Tern Hide being floated out later than the rest it has helped Common Terns to gain some territory from the gulls with 14 on the raft plus another two pairs at the Draper Hide. There are also a few long tailed tits along the canal and the cuckoos are still calling too.

In the Draper Hide, rover Paul spent the morning watching Little Ringed Plovers chasing round the scrape, attracting plenty of photographers.

 Little Ringed Plovers in action at the Draper Hide (Credit: Peter Woods)

Little Ringed Plovers in action at the Draper Hide (Credit: Peter Woods)

Mel’s Mutterings – 26th May

Yesterday’s single Tormentil has quickly been added to with a carpet of them also along the path to the Warbler Hide. There is also Speedwell with its Parma-Violet colours and lots of Dogwoods in flower attracting flies, bees and overvlies. Along the trail from Ashby to Tern & Gadwall there are Birdsfoot trefoil & Cranesbill along with a plethora of Common comfrey. My day was completed by a stunning swooping dive from a Peregrine & plenty of Swift on the wing.

One of our visitors today handed over a list of 46 different species sighted, including the whitethroat again, little egret, chiffchaffs, reed bunting and blackcap.

A Gadwall auditioning for a role as Edward Scissorhands? (Credit: Alan Reynolds)

A Gadwall auditioning for a role as Edward Scissorhands? (Credit: Alan Reynolds)

27th-29th May

Our roving team all noted the increasing numbers of Common Tern around the reserve, on the rafts, the Draper scrape and on the wing. Paul noted one of the young kingfisher fledglings being chased away by the adult Male, with it finally disappearing by the 29th. It was raptor-central over the Visitor Centre over the last few days, with Buzzard, Red Kite, Hobby and Kestrel all making appearances!

A scruffy juvenile Long Tailed Tit (Credit: Rose Newbold)


Thank you to Mel for his Mutterings, to our roving team for their support, and to everyone that has recorded their observations in our sightings logbook. Please do make use of it to help us with these blogs, and send us your photos!