I thought it was about time we had a blog post with some sunshine in it. Today turned out to be a lovely day and I was lucky enough to be at RSPB Rye Meads with GrahamC from the RSPB forums, looking at Kingfishers and stuff, when the sun came out.
A flock of Tufted Ducks from the Gadwall hide, pre-sunshine. This hide overlooked a squarish lake with some tern rafts on it.
Taken later on but from the same hide, a Little Grebe with a Little Snack. There were lots of Little Grebes around on the reserve, and no Great Cresteds.
Every time I think I've really had enough of photographing flying Cormorants, along flies another one and up comes the camera again. It's like some terrible compulsive disorder. I do quite like the result this time - a nice-looking juvenile coming in for a landing.
Kingfishers reared three broods at Rye Meads this year, using an artificial sandbank on the bank of a small pond. The action was on show from the elevated Kingfisher hide. We saw at least two different individuals, though neither deigned to perch very close or for very long.
There are several Kestrel nestboxes around the reserve, some attached to pylons. This Kestrel was also attached to a pylon (at least for a little while). Very high up, hence the rubbish angle.
Also very high up - a circling Sparrowhawk. Will I ever get a decent photo of this pesky species? It was good to watch him wheeling about against a clear blue sky, though.
The paths around the reserve are all lined with scrub, which harboured plenty of insects. This Common Darter couple settled with some difficulty on an eye-level leaf and appeared not to mind having their intimate moment caught on camera.
A tree thickly clad in flowering Ivy was alive with wasps, and also attracted a few late butterflies, including this Comma...
... and several Red Admirals.
Some paths bordered ditches, which were being cruised along by Migrant Hawkers. This one hung in the air long enough for me to capture a couple of coveted in-flight shots.
On our second look in at the Gadwall hide, we watched two adult Black-headed Gulls come in to land, but when a third (this one) arrived, the first two took off and chased it away.
Having seen off their rival, the original pair settled on a tern raft and did some gentle bowing and crooning at each other, apparently forming or consolidating a pair bond.
Wildfowl around included Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler and (allegedly) at least one Garganey but we didn't see it. Here's a female Teal...
... and here's a male Shoveler. Talk about beauty and the beast.
From the visitor centre you can see the feeding station, and take photos of it (unfortunately through glass). This female Pheasant was a shy and furtive visitor.
The best sighting from the final hide was this ichneumon walking up the glass. I've discovered that there are 1,200 ichneumon species in Britain, so nailing down the ID might be more than I can currently cope with...
I take photos, and I also write and illustrate books. My books include RSPB British Birds of Prey (published by A&C Black), The Nature Book (published by Michael O'Mara), RSPB Where to Discover Nature (published by Christopher Helm) and Photographing Garden Wildlife (published by New Holland). If you want to use any of the photos from this blog, find out what other photos I can supply or enquire about writing, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org)