RSPB Walsall Local Group
a million voices for nature
3 Feb 2002
After several days of heavy rain and gale force winds, the long drive to Hertfordshire was not an appealing prospect.
As expected, it was raining sharply as we left Walsall, but eased and finally stopped as we got to the M1.
|Rye House Marsh reserve stands next to Rye House Gatehouse which is all that remains of the original manor house, centre of the "Rye House Plot", where the failed attempt on the lives of King Charles and his brother James was planned. The reserve consists of a series of lakes containing the usual ducks and water birds such as Great Crested Grebe and Moorhen, although not in very great quantities. The most notable bird we saw here was a single Green Sandpiper, which, from the logbook in the hide, had been here for some time.||
|A heavy drizzle started as we finished lunch so we set off for Fishers Green and went directly to the Bittern hide which, as the name suggests, is a good place for seeing Bittern, usually as dusk approaches. Today, however, the Bitterns had been showing well, and we hadn't been there more than five minutes when one came out of the reeds in full view, and another flew in from another part of the marsh. We stayed here for over an hour with the best views of Bittern I have ever had - an occasional glimpse through the reeds followed by a stealthy move between cover being the more usual sighting. These birds seemed to be unaware of the people in the hide just a few feet away, as they slowly serched among the base of the reeds for something to eat; not very successfully either, as we only saw one bird take one small fish.|
|As we left the hide, a Water Rail made a brief appearance, before being disturbed by a passing Stoat. Further along the path, we found two male and one redhead Smew. The males in particular must be one of the most attractive water birds, even though they are only black and white.|
|Altogether, around 45 different species were seen, with the uundoubted highlight being the Bitterns - for two of the group in particular, as this was their first ever view of this elusive bird.|
Mike Pittaway (Field Trips Organiser)
Other birds seen included:
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Spotted Woodpecker