Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Amwell Nature Reserve - 30th April 13

Weather: Warm and sunny with some cloud. Cool breeze.

Birds seen:
Great Crested Grebe; Cormorant; Little Egret; Grey Heron; Mute Swan; Greylag Goose; Canada Goose; Mallard; Wigeon; Shoveler; Gadwall; Teal; Tufted Duck; Pochard; Sparrowhawk; Buzzard; Kestrel; Pheasant; Moorhen; Coot; Oystercatcher; Little Ringed Plover; Lapwing; Redshank; Snipe; Black-headed Gull; Lesser Black-backed Gull; Common Tern; Woodpigeon; Green Woodpecker (H); Sand Martin; Pied Wagtail; Wren; Dunnock; Robin; Blackbird; Cetti's Warbler; Grasshopper Warbler (H); Reed Warbler; Sedge Warbler; Garden Warbler; Lesser Whitethroat; Whitethroat; Blackcap; Chiffchaff; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Long-tailed Tit; Starling; Magpie; Jay; Carrion Crow; House Sparrow; Chaffinch; Goldfinch; Reed Bunting.
Total: 56

Plus: Grey Squirrel; Konic Ponies; Rabbits; Stoat.
Plus: Comma; Orange Tip; Peacock butterflies.

The best laid plans. I had a few minutes to kill before getting the train so I just hung around waiting at home rather than waiting on the platform. As it turned out the ticket office at the station had problems so I had to queue up at the machine. There were just enough people in front of me to make me miss the train. So I ended up arriving at the Reserve around 10.30. Ho hum.

At least it was sunny and warm, with a cool breeze. And waiting on the platform allowed me to see 3 Buzzards and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. And on the trail leading to the Reserve a Jay flew over. So it's all swings and roundabouts.

On arrival at the viewpoint there were some familiar faces already ensconced. On view were 3 Redshank; an Oystercatcher; a few Lapwing and 3 Common Tern - my first of the season. Then a voice behind me called out my name and I met up with Roy, who I sometimes bump into during visits to Fishers Green. He appraised me of what he had seen before moving on to Rye Meads. I spent about 35 minutes at the viewing point before moving on myself.

At the James Hide it was Warbler heaven. Cetti's and Grasshopper were heard; Reed and Sedge Warblers were heard and seen; a male Blackcap flew in and posed. And a pair of Canada Geese were nesting just in front of the Hide, the female sitting on eggs. Lastly, a Grey Squirrel started to hoover up the spilt seeds.

I've nicknamed him 'Whiskers'
People came and went from the Hide. Indeed, there were quite a few people out and about today, obviously taking advantage of the, finally, good weather. It was the usual mix of dog-walkers; joggers; cyclists and birders.

I was in two minds whether to search for the Grasshopper Warbler or to move on to the White Hide. In the event the Gropper went quiet so I headed off to the White. On the trail around there I spotted a Garden Warbler singing high in an adjacent tree. There was no one in the Hide when I arrived so I settled down to see what was about. Only one Snipe was seen as was a Little Egret. Soon after I saw the Little Ringed Plover that had been reported. The lone male, injured, Wigeon was about; there were a few Teal left; Lapwing were buzzing everything in sight, including Geese. A Pied Wagtail flew in onto the island. A pair of the Redshank flew over from the island nearer to the Hide, but promptly fell asleep. I had lunch.

Moving on, I headed down the trail to Tumbling Bay. The resident pair of GCGs were now nesting close to the shoreline. A Kestrel flew over. Other than that only the usual suspects were around the area. From here I walked down to the Dragonfly Trail and was delighted to see it open, one day early! Only my walk round yielded nothing. The walk back to the James did yield some Common and Lesser Whitethroats though.

Back down the trail to the James, this time downstairs to try and get some close-up shots. The Cetti's was again about but not near enough for a photo. And most of the other Warblers were similarly shy. Only the Reed Buntings and another lone Blackcap came close. Then a pair of Pheasants walked up close to the Hide pecking at the scraps dropped from the feeders above, allowing some close-up shots. There wasn't even a sniff of a Water Rail today and, just as I was about to move on, I saw a movement to the left of the Hide. Through the Bins it looked like my first Water Vole but then I was delighted to see that it was a Stoat! It was only visible for about 5-6 seconds but it was enough to get the blood racing. Unfortunately, although I then waited for another 30 minutes nothing more was seen of it.

Back at the viewpoint there were 6 Little Egret on show; a Sparrowhawk flew overhead and a Buzzard was high in the sky. A second Oystercatcher had arrived, while the LRP was giving better views from this side. Sand Martins were also flying over.

There were quite a few butterflies around today, mainly Orange Tips, but not many insects other than thousands of midges, seemingly all of them attracted to me. Must be the new aftershave.

It was past 5 now and so I headed for home. Quite a high total today, the highlights being the Stoat; LRP; Terns and the Gropper. All in all, a very good day. And a day that I didn't get a red nose from the sun and didn't fall over running for a train is always a good day.