A trip to the Lea Valley

This week I decided to visit the RSPB reserve at Rye Meads in the Lea Valley near Hoddesdon. the reserve contains a number of different habitats within a relative small area including woodland, marsh, lakes, reed bed and the River Lea

On the way to the first hide from the visitor centre I was already being serenaded by Chiffchaffs and Cetti’s Warblers and also a single Garden Warbler, which I was fortunate to see flitting about in the bushes. Arriving at Draper Hide, which overlooks the muddy islands of the wader scrape, I soon located a Little Ringed Plover feeding on the mud. There were a selection of ducks present, mostly Gadwall and a single Lapwing.


Leaving the hide, the sound of at least 2 Cuckoos could be heard calling from different parts of the reserve. A Common Tern flew overhead and more warblers (Cetti’s, Blackcap and Whitethroat) sung from the bushes. I was fortunate to see the first two species, although strangely I would not see a Whitethroat, often one of the more visible warbler species, all day. Arriving at Ashby Hide overlooking the reed-bed, I was fortunate to see a Reed warbler, of whom many were singing and a single Sedge Warbler. Just beyond Ashby another Garden warbler was singing.

Arriving at kingfisher hide, I decided to have lunch whilst I waited to see if one of the pair that nest in the bank opposite would appear. My attention was drawn by someone to a bird of prey on the wires above, but on close inspection it turned out to be a Cuckoo.


A Great Spotted Woodpecker also put in an appearance on a nearby dead tree and we could just make out the female Kestrel in her nest box on the pylon.

Great Spotted Woodpecker (f)

Eventually the male Kingfisher appeared stopping on a branch outside his nest before plunging twice into the water and then flying off.

Retracing my steps, I visited Gadwall and Tern hides which overlook the two main lakes. On the south lake the Black-headed gulls were already choosing their nest spaces and on the north lake were a pair of Great Crested Grebes and a Little Grebe showing off their breeding plumage in the sun.

By now the afternoon was moving on and it was time to leave to start the journey home. A very good day with excellent views of Cuckoo, Little Ringed Plover, Kingfisher and 5 species of warbler.

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