Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Amwell Nature Reserve - 27th May 13

Weather: Warm and sunny, slight cloud.

Birds seen:
Great Crested Grebe; Cormorant; Little Egret; Grey Heron; Mute Swan; Greylag Goose; Canada Goose; Mallard; Wigeon; Gadwall; Tufted Duck; Pochard; Buzzard; Hobby; Pheasant; Water Rail (H); Moorhen; Coot; Little Ringed Plover; Lapwing; Dunlin; Redshank; Common Sandpiper; Snipe; Black-headed Gull; Lesser Black-backed Gull; Common Tern; Woodpigeon; Cuckoo; Swift; Swallow; Wren; Dunnock; Robin; Blackbird; Cetti's Warbler (H); Reed Warbler; Sedge Warbler; Whitethroat; Chiffchaff; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Long-tailed Tit; Starling; Magpie; Carrion Crow; House Sparrow; Chaffinch; Reed Bunting.
Total: 49

Plus: Konic Ponies; Rabbits.
Plus: Green-veined White; Holly Blue; Orange Tip; Peacock butterflies; Azure, Large Red Damselflies.
Plus: Cardinal Beetles; Mayflies; Common Spotted, Southern Marsh Orchids.

A warm day. One of very few these days. The rest of the week is forecast for rain. So I thought I'd better make the most of it.

It was another very good day out. Lots of birds; lots of butterflies; more damselflies emerging and the best of all was the irruption of lots of Mayflies. Orchids were in bloom.

As it was a Bank Holiday I decided to set out earlier than usual, arriving at the viewing point around 9.20. There were more people about than was usual. More joggers, more cyclists, more dog-walkers, more families, even more birders. And there was lots of pollen about too, most of it seeming to head straight for me. I could swear that most of it changed direction and aimed straight for my nose.

At the VP I saw a Little Egret feeding just in front; 3 LRPs near on the mudflats; 3 Redshank flying around sounding off their yelping calls; a lone Common Sandpiper hiding amongst the foliage; a lone Snipe feeding in the shallows between the reedbeds; lots of Common Terns, flying around with their harsh calls and Swifts screaming overhead. A Cuckoo could be heard singing in the distance, off to the right. After about half-an-hour I moved to the smaller viewing point to try and get some better views of the Redshank. From here I saw a pair of Lapwings with a couple of chicks running around.

From here I moved on to the James Hide. The usual suspects were here, mainly on the feeders. A Buzzard was surfing the thermals, being mobbed by a pair of Crows. A pair of Reed Buntings were constantly flying in, feeding quickly and moving off. Reed and Sedge Warblers were heard, some of them appearing up close, giving good views. Another Cuckoo could be heard off to the left. A Water Rail squealed amongst the reeds. I moved downstairs to try and get some closer views of the Warblers, but they weren't playing ball today.

On the way to the White Hide I saw a Hobby flying over and then saw it swoop down, probably on some unfortunate prey. A Cetti's exploded into song nearby, but remained hidden. At the Hide I had lunch whilst watching the lone Wigeon; another pair of Little Egrets and Lapwings showing off their flying displays. Then a Redshank landed nearby and proceeded to work its way closer to the Hide. Unfortunately, a Coot scared it off before I could get any shots. But another Lapwing did get close and showed off its glorious colours in the sunshine.

Urban Decay
Just after one o'clock I decided to head off to the Dragonfly trail. On the way I heard another Cuckoo, this time quite close. I found a few other people looking and listening as well. They had just seen it fly over. Just as it was getting nearer a narrow-boat chugged by with music blaring out, which scared it off. I did get a glimpse of it though, before it flew. No dragons on the Trail unfortunately, but there were plenty of Large Red damselflies and a few Azure Blues. I moved quickly through the ponds and found myself at the stream. I was looking for any Demoiselles but it was obviously too early for them. But I was delighted to find lots of Mayflies flying around. Also called the 'One Day Fly' populations of Mayflies are declining in the UK. The only bird taking advantage of this feast fiesta was a lone Robin who must have thought Xmas had come early. This area was where most of the Orchids were found too, Common Spotted and Southern Marsh being the first to flower.

Robin with Mayfly
Large Red Damselfly
Azure Damselfly
On the walk back I kept my eyes open for more insects, eagerly trying to spot any Shield Bugs. But the only things I spotted were a couple of bright red Cardinal Beetles; lots of Long-jawed Orb spiders and a lone Scorpion Fly. Surprisingly I haven't seen a single Ladybird yet. I then found myself on the LTT food highway as dozens of them flew by, their soft, twittering song bewitchingly relaxing.

Cardinal Beetle

But then I bumped into 3 Lesser-spotted Gobshites, loud and proud, obviously having had too much nectar. They flew off down the trail towards Tumbling Bay lake. So I opted to head back to the James Hide. Not too much about here that wasn't seen earlier. So I moved back to the viewing point.

The Redshank and the LRPs were still about, as were the Lapwing chicks. The Redshank looked as if they were about to mate when the female decided that the male was taking too much time about it and flew off. The male was obviously miffed and I then saw it chase off a Dunlin, who dodged into the reeds and promptly went to sleep.

I decided against visiting the Gladwin Hide as there didn't seem to be much about in that area. So I concentrated on a Redshank which, at one point, ventured up close. But, for me, that was the last of the action and I headed home. I was surprised to find that both train journeys were a lot smoother and quicker today than on normal days. We should have more Bank Holidays!