Rye Meads 21st February 2016
The choice was simple, organise the camper or go birding – the call of the birds won so off we went to RSPB Rye Meads. I never ever thought I would be this into birding, but going out into the fresh air with a purpose is just great. Plus the excitement of spotting a new species (although we don’t always know we are seeing a new species until we take a look at the photos that Rog took!) is addictive.
It always amazes us that they have these sites in the most unlikely places, tucked away behind a housing estate or near industrial sites.
Still, it doesn’t detract from the beauty of of them and the birds didn’t seem to mind.
The people who volunteer are always there to give advice and help in any way they can, sharing their passion for the birds, letting us know the best places to spot certain species.
Our first sightings were on the feed station just outside the visitor centre, busy with the comings and goings of Blue Tits, Great Tits, Dunnocks (picking up the seeds dropped from above) and Magpies.
We followed the trail around, always keeping our eyes open for a sighting, past the Water Vole windows in the fences, but sadly no joy.
The first hide was overlooking a lake. It yielded quite a few species, some we can recognise immediately, others, not so much, although Roger recognises more than me (or so I let him think 😉, makes him feel good). There’s often a wipe clean board on the wall in the hides, where you can write what you’ve spotted – I’m always tempted to put something rare then sit back and watch – but I don’t, the thought just amuses me.
We continue on our way, stopping to take shots of birds that only Rog can see until I actually spot a beautiful Robin, just perched to the left almost at eye level, just sitting there, I put my arm out to stop Roger (ouch) and he took the shots (which goes without saying turned out beautifully), there was a father with his two small children who also stopped, coming from the other direction, he pointed the Robin out to his son and his little face when he saw him was awash with wonder – heartwarming.
Well, I’ve got to be honest, I wasn’t expecting to see anything. As we rounded the corner I could see the hide, with quite a few lenses poking out of the windows. We went up the steps and went inside, took a couple of seats, which were sadly not next to each other, and began our vigil. We were looking out onto s small lake/large pond, with trees to the left, reeds to the right and a sandbank with holes in it covered over with turf at the far back and left. There were also large, long sticks sticking out of the water that had been put in there at an angle for the Kingfishers to land on. It was only a few minutes before everyone stirred, gasps and whispers, binoculars were raised and cameras started click click clicking, but guess what – I couldn’t see anything!!! I was desperately looking through my binoculars in search of something resembling a Kingfisher. I looked at the cameras to see which direction they were pointing in and towards what area, this helped, I eventually saw a flash of blue flitting through the branches that were overhanging the water, I pointed my binnies over there, the flash eventually settled and lo and behold I saw my first Kingfisher. I wasn’t prepared for the reaction I had, didn’t realise how much it obviously meant to me, it brought a couple of tears to my eyes. Although they are bright blue on their back they seem to blend in quite well, their chests are a rusty colour which helps I guess. We stayed for a good half an hour and watched a pair sitting on the overhanging branch, leaving it only occasionally to sit obligingly on a bare branch near the bank, this is where Roger got his awesome shot from. He sat there for a while then took off, did a loop around the edge of the pond, passing right in front of the hide windows, then disappeared out of sight. It was like the finale to the show. Awesome.
We left the hide on a high, so so chuffed that we had seen them and that Roger had managed to get the shot. We talked about the encounter as we walked further round, following the path through the one way turnstile gates – where Rog let me go first only to say, “Actually, let’s not go that way” 😐😂
He followed me, after he’d finished guffawing at his own joke of course, along the Otter Path. This lead over a low decking bridge spanning some reeds and through some amazing moss covered trees, on to the actual hide. We sat in here for a little while, but sadly the otters weren’t up for it, so after I was told “Don’t otter another word” 😐 we moved on.
The walk back to the visitor centre was about 2 miles, along a main road for a little bit and through trees that are quite obviously about to burst with new, clean, fresh leaves.
On our way back we saw a Ladybird and a Cormorant (which to me looked like a Buzzard – this identifying birds business may take me a while to learn) sitting in a tree.
Can’t wait for the next Micro, Mini, Grand Adventure!