September – October 2018
Bird of the period was undoubtedly our second record of Great White Egret. It landed briefly in the Meadows at the end of September and was then regularly seen locally until its second appearance in mid October. As these birds increase in the UK, it’s likely to become more regular in future, like the Little Egret, which peaked at seven in September.
The Pintail which showed up at the end of August remained until mid September, and then this or another bird was seen a couple of weeks later.
Tufted Duck numbers continue to decline: the WeBS count in October found just six birds – go back ten years and the comparable total was 146; go back twenty years and it was 258. The likely culprit is the burgeoning population of introduced Carp in the South Lagoons, which have hovered up all the food – instead of a few hundred wildfowl of various species, we are lucky to find as many as twenty birds here at this time of year now.
Following a poor year in 2017, Snipe returned in numbers to the meadows following some welcome rain after the summer drought, with up to 93 counted. The first Jack Snipe returned in mid October, and there were two Common Sandpipers at the beginning of the period.
The usual regular Raptor species – Buzzard, Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, Kestrel, and the last of the year’s Hobby – were reported, and we also had a Marsh Harrier in September.
Two species that don’t often make it into these summaries do this time: 55 Stock Doves were counted as they roosted on the final sedimentation tanks, and there was also a surprisingly high count of 24 Collared Doves.
Raven records are now almost routine, with a single and then a pair in September followed by another in October, barking or cawing or whatever it is that Ravens do from the top of the Hut pylon. Let’s just hope that this isn’t a sinister omen!
Goldcrest migration has been light so far but 10 around the Ringing Hut bushes on a foggy morning in October were probably about as near as we get to a fall at Rye Meads.
A Marsh Tit was a surprise find in a mist-net inSeptember and another was seen in October. A Coal Tit in October was luckier and escaped from the net. These are far from run-of-the-mill tits in this wetland site!
Hirundine numbers were again very disappointing, with no significant roosts and early last dates. Warblers also seem to have departed early, although Blackcaps were more interesting with 13 in the second week of September representing our last record until two birds were caught and ringed in the second half of October, possibly European birds moving into Britain to winter. Similarly with Reed Warbler, with a late bird well into October.
Sixteen Redwings heralded the winter thrush arrival in mid October followed by three Fieldfares a couple of days later. Numbers of both species were small thereafter with the only exception being a nice passage of 241 Redwings one day in October. The first Stonechat arrived in the Meadows before the end of September, with up to four present through the rest of the period.
A Spotted Flycatcher was our second record this autumn, and our final Yellow Wagtail was seen towards the end of September. Meadow Pipit passage was light apart from a count of 70 birds on one day in September.
A Brambling was seen and heard by the Concrete Sludge feeder site in October, and either this or another bird was caught there a few days later, our first Brambling ringed since 2007. Up to 60 Goldfinches have frequented the same area. Siskins were recorded on six dates but numbers have not exceeded five. A small number of Lesser Redpolls arrived in late October: one of these was caught and proved to have been already ringed elsewhere; we eagerly await details.