It’s been a packed month, so much so that we missed an end of month blog! Away from the species sightings, our work party have been busy painting and repairing the handrails and fences around the site, we’ve been preparing for the RSPB’s upcoming Big Wild Summer events, and we’ve had school groups visiting almost every weekday. It’s been amazing seeing so many enthusiastic kids taking part in the curriculum-based activities our Schools on Reserves team have worked so hard on!
But anyway, here’s a bumper edition of the sightings blog, complete with pictures from the Friends of RSPB Rye Meads Facebook group and our regular visiting photographers who we are grateful to for sharing their photos with us. And of course, after a little holiday, there’s some more of Mel’s Mutterings!
Swimming grass snake captured by Stuart Fox
Visitor Sightings Log: 13th-19th June
Casting our minds back a month, our roving volunteers were mostly on holiday so we were grateful to visitors filling out our daily sightings log sheets for these! Please do write down what you see on a visit, even if its ‘just’ a pigeon…
We did have a very brief visit from a Redshank at the Draper Hide, and a small grass snake, probably a juvenile, which caused a stir down at the Kingfisher Hub. The occasional Lapwing was still hanging around too. We still have Red Crested Pochards, including one slightly sleepy one below, pictured by Robert Kitchen.
It’s a fantastic time for dragonflies too, with our newly cut viewing points working a treat. Black tailed skimmers, broad-bodied chasers and Green-Eyed (Norfolk) Hawkers are among the good sightings.
Sunday 17th was a really good day for vole-spotting with many visitors reporting back some reed munching going on in the Draper Dipping Pond. Rose Newbold captured this great shot.
Visitor Sightings Log: 20th-26th June
Sandpipers started to return this week with a pair of Common Sandpiper taking up position at the Draper Hide among the Little Ringed Plovers which continue to punch above their weight in defending their territory! Andre Griggs with one of many LRP photos below.
At the Kingfisher Hub, the star of the show once again wasn’t always the Kingfishers. Kestrels chicks could be seen in the nest box and a Tufted Duck was regularly seen escorting seven chicks around the pool. Among our more elusive sightings were Whitethroat, Long Tailed Tits, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, and a flyover from a B17 Flying Fortress…
Plenty of insects around again, and my favourite photo of the week is this brilliant close up of a bee from Mark Laffling
Roving volunteer Paul had a busy day on the 25th in each of the hides (to go with Mel’s Mutterings, maybe we also have Paul’s Prattling?). At the Kingfisher Hub, there was plenty of fish being taken into the nest bank, the kestrels showed well, and there were several Gadwall parents with young. Paul and several visitors reported the first returning Green Sandpiper, which actually caused confusion by landing at the Gadwall Hide and then moving to the Draper Hide! A couple of Teal also arrived at the Gadwall Hide to join the usual Little Grebe, Gadwall and Geese. Finally, a Hummingbird Hawkmoth landed for a while on the Minibeast hotel near the Ashby Hide!
Kestrels in the nest box! (David Gowing)
Mel’s Mutterings: 28th-29th June
Having been absent for a few weeks it seems the reserve has exploded in colour & the quantity of flowers is amazing! It’s mostly resplendent in yellow with Tutsan (Hypericum androsaeum) & Ribbed melilot (Meliotus officianlis) and Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea). A Garden warbler was singing from the undergrowth by the kingfisher loop boardwalk and 57 ginger & brown coloured juveniles Black headed gulls squawked on the Draper scrape and didn’t panic at all when a Sparrowhawk flew over. I spotted a Green-Eyed (Norfolk) hawker on the wing which is a first for me! Large numbers of Coot & Gadwall are on the reserve at present. On the 29th my sighting of the day was a family party of 6 Goldcrest by the 5-bar gate near Draper hide as well as Green Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover showing well. There are still Red Crested Pochard at the Gadwall Hide and a courageous mother Tufted duck towing 19 ducklings! There’s also a huge variety of butterflied around now including Commas, Ringlets, and a Red Admiral.
A Green-Eyed (or Norfolk) Hawker, photographed by Peter Woods
Visitor Sightings Log: 30th June-3rd July
We started the day with several types of beetle in the flower beds near the visitor centre, Thick-Legged Flower Beetle and Mint Leaf Beetles were IDed. For the first time in a while, and fairly late for us, a Cetti’s Warbler was heard near the Ashby Hide. We also had the first evidence of the Kingfishers preparing for brood no.3 at the Kingfisher Hub, with a lot of feeding happening simultaneously. Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and a Hobby were the midweek sightings, and a Little Egret arrived in time for the weekend. On Saturday, Alan from the Rye Meads Ringing Group arrived excitedly in the morning to announce a Mediterranean Gull hiding among the Black Headed Gulls on the Draper Scrape. On the Sunday we were also pleased to hear that there were several Greenfinches around, and a Shoveler with ten chicks continuing the successful breeding on the reserve.
Kingfisher bringing fish into the bank (Sukhdev Singh)
Visitor Sightings Log: 4th-5th July
The week just gone has seen a run of highlight sightings. Monday 4th started with the usual Draper Hide sightings of Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Green Sandpiper, and returning Teal and Little Egret, but the buzz was created by a Black-Tailed Godwit which stuck around all day before disappearing in the evening - not before being photographed by Peter Woods!. Elsewhere on the trail there was a Great Spotted Woodpecker, several types of Hawker dragonfly, and a lonely Egyptian Goose.
Mel’s Mutterings: 6th-7th July
It was then the turn of three Oystercatchers to steal the show at the Draper Hide, starting with two adults and a juvenile. They hung around for a few days before we were left with a single Oystercatcher for the day.
It’s pretty dry on site, but lots of flowers are enjoying the warmth: Vetch, Tufted Vetch, Selfheal, Water lilies, Ragwort, Purple loosestrife all well in flower. Lots of butterflies, my 1st Gatekeeper of the year joined by Large white, Red admiral , Small skipper & Speckled wood. A Shoveler family are feeding from the Gadwall hide with Little & Great crested grebe. There are still nine Common Tern holding their patch of shingle on the rafts.
On the 7th the reserve seemed to be taken over by Canada Geese juveniles, although they’re probably the equivalent of teenagers now (with the attitude too!). Today I went up to the Warbler Hide and saw plenty of Stock dove plus a few Reed Bunting singing there monotonous song alongside the Reed and Sedge Warblers. Whilst walking back to the VC, at the wooden steps from the Ashby Hide I lucked into a party of 6 Chiffchaff, a singing Blackcap & a Long tailed tit flock. Heron & Little egret were nice to see along with the Egyptian goose & wheeling Lapwing at the Draper Hide.
One of the three Oystercatchers who paid us a visit (Claire Charlson)
Visitor Sightings Log: 8th-10th July
Our roving volunteer team has been growing recently, and we’re already seeing the benefits, as we were able to find out very early about the four Greenshank pottering about right at the back of the lagoon at the Gadwall Hide thanks to our Hide Guide Chris. Another single-day visit but a great one for us! Elsewhere on the day it was a good day for raptors with Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Buzzard seen regularly.
The four Greenshank at the Gadwall Hide (Rose Newbold)
The next day was another highlight, and for two days in a row the Kingfisher Hub wasn’t the focus of the reserve! Three Black-Tailed Godwit settled at the back of the Draper Scrape to join the last remaining Oystercatcher, and were photographed brilliantly by several visitors. It was also a fledging day but for the Kestrels rather than the Kingfishers, with some lucky visitors witnessing two young Kestrels bobbing around on top of the box before flying off.
Today though it did end up all about the Kingfishers. Roving guide Derek gave us a call mid-morning to report two fledglings from the bank – our second successful brood from there this year, and the Draper pair won’t be far behind. All signs point to a third clutch of eggs already!
The kestrel chicks preparing to fledge (Martin Abbess)
Thank you to Mel, Paul, Chris, Derek and the rest of our roving team, 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!
One of a few Greenfinch seen around the reserve lately (Steve Dimbleby)
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