The other side of Easter has seen a mixture of warm and still, and cool and windy - fortunately we've begun to see plenty of Year Firsts, including Reed Warblers and the unmistakable sounds of Cuckoos. We've also had a pair of very confident Kestrels mating around the nest boxes near the Kingfisher Hub and the car park - we have our fingers crossed for nesting after a couple of years of absence! Redshank have also been around, and we also saw two Curlew before they were scared off by a low flying National Grid helicopter which hovered over the Visitor Centre for what seemed like hours!

There's been plenty of other great sightings and firsts for the year - so here is our second instalment from our roving volunteer Mel Shepherd-Wells!

The kestrels certainly haven't been shy about things. Credit: Rose Newbold

Mel’s Mutterings

14th April

Today was a beautiful warm spring morning with Butterflies on the wing - Orange Tip,  Brimstone & Peacock aplenty, and 3 hornets by the path at the Draper Hide. On the way to the Kingfisher Hub I heard my 1st singing Sedge warbler & with a little patience I also managed a sneak peek of him from his tree! The male & female Kingfisher were out & about at the Hub and I later caught up with the Draper hide pair so a 4 Kingfisher day (my best ever). Black headed gulls were hawking insects, as was a Robin, doing its best impression of a flycatcher… Two Carrion crows have made a big stick nest in the pylon overlooking the Kingfisher pool where a pair of late Teal are chilling out & a Grey heron was fishing. Other highlights of the day: Stock dove, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pochard, Lapwing, Blackcap, Blue, Great & Long tailed tits, Cetti’s and Chiffchaff


19th April

Beautiful sunshine greeted me on the reserve today, which showcased some of its great Flora... Marsh marigolds are shining yellow in both the pond dipping pools, Lesser celandine are poking their sunny faces above any short grass and the White Comfrey has started offering its nectar to many bumblebees. The Honesty’s Purple Flowers shimmering on the bank by Gadwall hide & the lime coloured freshness of the young Oak & Willow leaves are a contrast to the darker & shinier leaves of the Hawthorn. The white flowers of Jack-in-the-hedge are doing exactly that, hiding in hedges, and the blue flowers of both Forget-me-not & Green Alkanet are a colourful addition. Songsters aplenty; Chiffchaff, Blackcaps, Cetti’s & Wrens competing for the noisiest…. Summer Ducks have increased with around 30 Pochard and 40+ Gadwall drops in the numbers of Teal & Shoveler hopefully heralding balmy days…


20th April

An even warmer day today with plenty of pristine Orange tip butterflies on the wing, a solo Brimstone , Peacock, Comma plus numerous Buff tailed bumblebee & some Bee-flies not staying still so I can identify them! A mist of small flies & midges were an endless supply of food (for the birds, not me!). The incessant squabbling calls of the Black headed gulls are a daily distraction almost causing me to miss the Bank Vole scuttling along by the Kingfisher Hub. A pair of freshly arrived Little ringed plovers were a lovely spring addition too.


26th April

A lovely warm spring day & no wind for a change meant it was another butterfly day, this time six species: Speckled wood, Holly blue, Orange tip, Brimstone, Peacock & Small white plus the bonus of Dark-edged bee-fly sunning itself on the bare ground. A Raven was a lovely surprise, its diamond shaped wedge tail & broad fingered wings giving it away. It’s all about singing & hiding now with Sedge warbler, Cetti’s, Blackcap & Chiffchaff hiding in apparent plain sight.


27th April

An overcast and cooler day today doesn’t appear to stifle the cacophonous calls & songs it seems. Sitting on my chair on guard outside the Kingfisher Hub I was alerted to my 1st Common Tern of the year flying along the canal and then back on the reserve. Hopefully if the Black headed gulls leave room on the rafts (alongside the Egyptian Goose) they will breed again. I then heard the quicker scratchier blackbird like call of a Garden Warbler in the hawthorns by the boardwalk but it’s skulking habit sheltered it from me - try as I might I couldn’t find it! Two beautiful Teal were still holding on to what is left of winter but spring & summer march on bringing the birds & bees of warmer times ahead. Today I saw some 37 bird species, my best tally of this year whilst volunteering at Rye Meads.

Black-headed Gull in flight. Credit: David Everett

Thank you once again to Mel for his Mutterings! Rye Meads is actively recruiting volunteers for a variety of roles, including more roving volunteers, Hide Guides, meet and greet volunteers, and contributors to the community blog. And if you have photographs of your sightings here at Rye Meads, and would like to contribute them to these blogs please do post on the Rye Meads Community Forum! To find out more visit the RSPB website or email