September – October 2017
The highlight of the period (if only for one lucky observer) was a Spotted Crake flushed and not seen again in late September.
Although no Canada Geese were on site during the WeBS counts, a maximum of 215 were recorded flying over to and from stubble fields in September. The three Garganeys in August just lingered into September.
Our good recent record with raptors continued, with the usual Buzzards, Red Kites, Sparrowhawks, Kestrels, Hobbies (including two in October) and Peregrines all recorded, and two single Marsh Harriers also put in an appearance in September.
Waders included a late Little Ringed Plover, a Ringed Plover and a Ruff, with up to three Common Sandpipers as well as the regular Green Sandpipers. Unsuitable conditions in the meadows led to our first Jack Snipe not being found until the end of October, and lower than usual Common Snipe numbers.
Stock Dove numbers have been high this autumn up to 70 roosting on the Finals Tanks. Ravens continue to become more and more frequent, with records of one and two birds. Unusually for Rye Meads, up to two Coal Tits were recorded on five dates. Up to ten Goldcrests were joined by a nice surprise, the catching of our second Firecrest of the year.
It has been a poor autumn for hirundine migration following what is reported to have been a poor breeding season. No significant roosts were found in the reedbeds this year. There was an unusually late Swift in late September.
Following what seems to have been a good season warbler passage was reasonable except for Reed and Sedge Warblers. Following some excellent years the reedbeds on the scrape held few aphids and presumably any visiting migrant quickly moved on to better habitats giving us less opportunity to catch them. Notable warbler numbers included 50 Chiffchaffs and six Willow Warblers.
Up to 200 Starlings were roosting on the Lee Marsh in September, and there was a noticeable passage of birds in late October when 365 flew NW. On the same date 402 Fieldfare and 120 Redwing also moved in a mainly westerly direction. A Mistle Thrush was rattling around by the Gadwall Hide in early September.
Our second good Spot of the period was a Spotted Flycatcher. A Whinchat was in the meadows for some ten days, and there were up to four Stonechats remaining to the end of October.
Yellow Wagtails peaked at five, two of which were caught and ringed, and a flock of mixed Wagtails feeding on the ‘grease tanks’ in September included up to 11 Pied and 17 Grey Wagtails. Meadow Pipit passage was initially light but 69 were flushed in mid September and 60 were feeding in the meadows during the October WeBS count. Our first Water Pipit of the winter arrived at the end of October.
There was a slightly better showing of Finches and Buntings than in some recent years. The establishment of a well-stocked feeding site in a sheltered part of the Concrete sludge is partly responsible for better numbers seen and totally responsible for good numbers caught, especially Goldfinches, with up to 100, and 31 Chaffinces. The recent Hawfinch invasion has not completely passed us by, with two flying over, only our second record of this millennium! There were up to five Siskins, not many yet but better than last autumn! Similarly a pair of Lesser Redpolls was surprisingly the first record of the year. A count of 25 Reed Buntings was also encouraging but Yellowhammer has not yet been found this autumn.
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