A quick visit to Rye Meads soon revealed that the bird autumn has arrived. The first signs are the return of Teal and Shoveler. Shoveler do occasionally breed in the Lea Valley but very infrequently so their appearance is normally a sign of their autumn return and the start of a build-up in numbers for the winter. Of course, at this time of the year, ducks are in their eclipse plumage where, for a couple of months, the males take on the female plumage. However, the green speculum of the Teal and the orange legs and large bill of the Shoveler are both giveaways.
Large groups of ducks were also gathering to start their displaying ritual where they dash around and dive under the water. After a few minutes of frantic action this usually degenerates into bathing and preening like this Gadwall and Mallard.
But, at this time of the year and during the Winter months, Rye Meads is probably best known for its high numbers of Green Sandpipers. These arrived back several weeks ago and are already into double figures.