A couple of hours to spare and what better place to while away the time than in the Draper Hide at Rye Meads? The water levels are still moderately high, although some mud is beginning to appear, so no waders today apart from a single Lapwing. However, Tufted Ducks seem to have had a good year with no less than four broods on the pool.
So the main interest today was the ever-growing population of Black-headed Gulls and the reducing population of Common Terns. Ten years ago the Common Tern population was at an all-time high with dozens of pairs nesting in the Lea Valley on both natural islands and purpose-built nesting rafts. Then Black-headed Gulls starting moving up the valley, displacing many of the Common Terns from their nest sites. Sometime the terns will wait until the gulls have finished nesting and have a late brood, but numberrs are still dwindling. First, the Black-headed Gulls.
Today the juveniles were excercising their new-found flight capability. And when you have spent much of the day waiting for food to be brought in, those wings are in need of a stretch.
There were only a couple of pairs of Common Terns in front of the Draper Hide today and the juveniles spent much of their time sitting around, nowhere as active as the juvenile gulls.
On one occasion this adult Common Tern became very agitated when this juvenile Black-headed Gull came too close to its chicks.
The younsters spent most of their time calling for food and when a fish was brought in all hell let loose. This juvenile seemed to be very pleased with its fish, but didn't appear to be too sure what to do with it.
Well, what a superb way to while away a couple of hours at a superb reserve just 15 minutes from home. Always a pleasure to go back and relive the memories when I was ringing there in the 1960s and 1970s,