November – December 2018
Dull and quiet, just like the weather!
Nowhere is the recent decline in wildfowl wintering numbers more stark than in Tufted Duck, with a maximum in November of just seven birds, recovering slightly in December to 27. As recently as 2013 the equivalent number was 164. Reasons continue to be debated. At least there was a returning Shelduck in the period to lighten the gloom (metaphorical as well as physical).
Up to three hundred Lapwings were present, and regularly observed roosting on No.1 lagoon. Jack Snipe were once again in good numbers in the Meadows, with up to 13 in November and nine in December.
Two Tawny Owls were heard calling in November, a Coal Tit was caught and ringed and our second Marsh Tit of the year was seen. Chiffchaff numbers were low in the fairly mild weather and a maximum count of five is low by recent winter norms, but single Blackcaps were seen four occasions, involving at least three separate individuals.
There was a modest thrush passage in November with 287 Redwings and 90 Fieldfares being counted heading unusually to the east; this curious passage was noted elsewhere in the Herts and London area that day.
One to three Stonechats took up residence in the Meadows, and a Water Pipit was an unexpected find in a mist-net in the 1st Meadow in November.
Chaffinch and Goldfinch are the only two finch species that can be guaranteed at Rye Meads these days with maxima of 55 Goldfinches and 75 Chaffinches recorded. Otherwise there were penny numbers of Greenfinch, Bullfinch, Linnet, Siskin, and Redpoll, and similarly Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer.
Hopefully 2019 will provide a bit more interest!