30th July 2016
The Draper Hide at Rye Meads is good for bird photography for two main reasons. The first is that if the sun is out it will always be, in pantomime terms, behind you and secondly there is generally a good selection of species to photograph. Today was a good example on both counts.
The Little Grebes generally nest next to the hide and this year have raised two young. They are now growing fast and provide some excellent photo opportunities. The Tufted Duck brood is also doing well and the adult female often comes near the hide for some great close-ups.
The commonest duck at Rye Meads is now the Gadwall, non-existent when I was there in the 1960s. Luckily, at this time of the year they often go on fly-about giving some chances for that in-flight shot. And Shoveler numbers are starting to build up, although most are now in eclipse plumage.
Herons and egrets are normally well represented and this Grey was looking resplendent in its own reflection. It then got attacked by a Common Tern, causing it to duck and dive.
A Little Egret is never far away and this one flew across the lagoon, scaring most birds in its path. Never far away was a pair of Stock Doves, one of the most under-rated and very often under-seen birds, because they are frequently over-looked by inexperienced observers.
Common Terns provide the entertainment because, not only are they very photogenic, but are always on the move giving some great in-flight shots.
And their young are growing up now, just in time for their long migration south to Africa.
Not too much excitement on the wader front, but this Dunlin did provide some interest. Unfortunately, this rather small wader spent most of its time on the opposite side of the lagoon.
But the stars of the show today were the returning Green Sandpipers, some of them sporting their colour rings to make it easier for observers to record their location. Interestingly, although Green Sandpipers are colour-ringed at Lemsford Springs and Rye Meads and are frequently recorded at their ringing sites in subsequent years, not a single Green Sandpiper has been recorded at the other site, a distance of just 10 miles.
This particular individual was spooked by Little Egret with colour combination Red V Green 6.