19th June 2014
I had gone down to Rye Meads on the 27th May to try and see the pair of Black-necked Grebes that had turned up there the day before. I did indeed see the birds but they were about as far away as you could get on the far side of the lagoon in front of the Gadwall Hide. I went back again a couple of days later, but the hide had been closed in case this Schedule 1 species tried to breed as they did in 2012. When I came back from holiday the following had been posted on the RSPB Rye Meads Recent Sightings website:
"18 June 2014
Well we have some great news!! A pair of Black-necked grebe has bred successfully at Rye Meads.
The pair arrived on site on Monday 26 May and were soon getting down to constructing a nest very close to the Gadwall hide. As the birds are Schedule 1 and susceptible to egg collectors we had to put some measures in place to protect these beautiful birds. So we made the decision to close the Gadwall Hide and mounted a watch on the nest recording all activity that occurred. We were rewarded with 3 eggs being laid and after a nail biting 3 week incubation period the first egg hatched today!
We are so pleased to be able to offer you the opportunity to views these great birds. We are re-opening the Gadwall hide from Thursday 19 June. However, in order to prevent disturbance to these birds while they continue to incubate the remaining eggs and make use of the nest we will be placing restrictions on viewing from the hide. The hide will only be open when there is a staff member or volunteer available to be on duty in the hide. Please ensure you follow any instructions they give you or you will be asked to leave. The windows are to remain closed, noise is to be kept to a minimum and if busy, restrictions will be placed on the amount of time you are able to stay in the hide, if queues are forming please keep noise to a minimum and be patient."
I arrived on site at 9.30am and was surprised to see only a few cars in the car park having expected a rush of people coming to see the birds on their way to work. In the event the hide was very quiet with only about four people present. As had been advised, the windows were all shut to minimise any noise and Vicky was doing an excellent job with her Windolene spray so that we could both see and photograph the birds through the glass.
The nest was right in front of the Gadwall Hide just right of centre by the gravel island. When I arrived the male was incubating the remaining eggs with the chick on his back. Not long after the female arrived and seemingly tried to take over the incubation but he was having none of it and sat tight. The following photos came out reasonably well considering that they were taken through glass in bad light. Notice how dull and much smaller the female is compared to the male.
What a fantastic day. Thanks once again to Vicky, staff and volunteers for protecting the birds during the sensitive period, and to Vicky for getting the news out so quickly once it was considered safe to re-open the hide.