July – August 2019

Bumper numbers of small birds, a long-staying Marsh Harrier, and our first Little Owl for five years.


Rounding up pullus ducks in the South Lagoons

July – August 2019

The period was most notable for the numbers of small passerines on site – it was obviously a good breeding season, and we ringed over a thousand birds in each of July and August, thus achieving a thousand in three consecutive months for the first time in the Group’s history. Ringing in this volume is hard work, and means less time spent on observation, but it does indicate the numbers of birds on site. For example, on one busy July day we handled 106 Blackcaps, 15 Lesser Whitethroats, 35 Whitethroats and 9 Garden Warblers, so clearly the number of birds on site must have been at least two or three times that.

The flocks of tits on site included Coal Tits on two dates, still an unusual bird at Rye Meads, and two Mistle Thrushes on one date. Up to six Linnets hopefully may represent a bit of a comeback at Rye Meads, and the usual  post-breeding flock of Goldfinches built up to 80. Up to two Ring-necked Parakeets were recorded.

The regular raptors were, well, regular, with maximum counts of single Sparrowhawks, two Red Kites, Hobbies and Peregrines, and three Buzzards and Kestrels (not counting the chicks in the RSPB Carpark nestbox). A juvenile Marsh Harrier joined in the fun, spending the latter part of August patrolling the meadows.

But perhaps the bird of the period was the Little Owl heard in the Works Tealeaves area in early August. Although this species probably breeds annually just to the west of this patch and probably occurs on site more often, it is rarely recorded – this is the first record since 28th June 2014.

A male Garganey stayed to moult on site and was accompanied by another bird on one date; otherwise there were up to six Wigeon and the Gadwalls were counted one August day and totalled 364 birds. There were up to nine Little Egrets.

As usual water-levels were maintained at a high level on the Scrape to discourage waders from nesting and to offer protection to other nesting species. These benefits however are at the cost of the attractiveness of the site to migrant waders, but nevertheless we had records of one and two Whimbrels, up to six Black-tailed Godwits, a Greenshank, a Dunlin, three Oystercatchers and a Little Ringed Plover. Up to six Lapwings were regularly seen and attempted to breed, and a single Snipe summered.

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