Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Rye Meads - 29th July 13

Weather: Mix of sun, cloud and rain. Very humid.

Bird Total: 36
Plus: Comma, Green-veined White, Large White, Meadow Brown, Peacock, Small Skipper Butterflies.
Plus: Common Blue damselfly. Black-tailed Skimmer, Brown Hawker dragonflies.
Plus: Water Buffalo; Longhorn Beetle; various Bees, Hoverflies and Wasps.

I've never been on a poor visit to any Reserve, but today came close. To paraphrase an Emperor - the day did not necessarily develop to my advantage. I only really visited RM because of the lack of news concerning the fledging Kingfishers and I thought that I might get lucky. I figured that, as it was going to be squally and wet, I could shelter in the Hide whilst waiting to see if the fledging happened.

View from the Kingfisher Hide
Unfortunately, as soon as I arrived at the Hide it was immediately obvious that they had already fledged. Only one person was in the Hide and she said that nothing had been seen of the KFs. I spent over 2 hours waiting but not a sighting was seen. They had fledged, obviously, but the question was - were they going to have a 3rd brood? Or had they vacated the area completely?

Earlier, when I arrived at the Visitor Center, no one seemed to know what, if anything, had happened. Nothing had been written up on the website. No news was good news, I thought. I did eventually spot one of the KFs, on my second visit. But it was all too fleeting a show, mere seconds. So there is a possibility that a 3rd brood might happen.

I had earlier stopped off for a quick visit to the Draper Hide. Here there were 3 Green Sandpipers; about 30+ Lapwing and about 5 Common Terns, including one juvenile. But I was up for trying to catch the fledging, so I headed off after only 10 minutes. Just outside a Green Woodpecker flew past right in front of me.

View from the Draper Hide
Whilst I was sitting in the KF Hide around 7 or 8 people came and went, all asking the same question - 'Have they fledged?'. I only saw about a dozen or so people around the Reserve all day. They all missed the amusing sight of one of the juvenile Coots chasing off an adult Gadwall, copying its' parent. There were only a few other birds about here - Tufties, the resident Coot family, a few Mallards and a Great Spotted Woodie, all employed by the RSPB to amuse the punters in the Hide while they wait for Kingfishers.

Gadwalls swimming in the green soup.
I made a quick circuit to the Warbler Hide and back, which took an hour. On the way I almost stepped on a pair of mating Bees, locked together, oblivious of what was happening around them. Whilst there, after lunch, I was all set to move off when it started raining. So I hung around waiting for it to stop when suddenly, from the right, the female Marsh Harrier took off and landed on a post, shaking out her wings. The male had been seen the previous day, so I wondered if they were maybe nesting here. Fingers crossed! The only other birds I saw from this Hide were a pair of Reed Buntings and a pair of Reed Warblers, flying in and around the reed-beds. Apart from, of course, all the Crows; Pigeons; Gulls and Coots.

I arrived back at the KF Hide to get my fleeting glimpse of a Kingfisher flying into a nest-hole, before moving back to the twin Hides. The only things of note here were a Little Egret from the Tern Hide and a pair of BHGs mating outside the Gadwall Hide.

Back at the Draper a 4th Sandpiper had turned up and a pair of Pied Wagtails were hunting for food on the island. They looked like juveniles. I also counted 67 Lapwing, which were being put up every few minutes by nothing in particular. Then I saw a poor little female Gadwall hopping around on one leg. Just after that 14 Canada Geese did a flyover, disturbing everything,  mainly the Lapwing. In a cacophony of noise they chose one of the twin lakes beyond the reeds - the Canadas had landed!

I only saw a few Common Blue damselflies and just the odd dragonfly. There were a few butterflies up when the wind allowed. But the weather did not necessarily develop to their advantage either.

I also managed to dodge the showers by hiding in the Hides but eventually got caught walking back to the Station. Any day out is good, but today wasn't one that would trouble the scorers.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Amwell Nature Reserve - 24th July 13

Weather: Cloudy and overcast in the morning. Sunny, hot and humid in the afternoon.

Bird Total: 46
Dragons and Damsels: Banded Demoiselle, Blue-tailed, Common Blue, Red-eyed Damselflies; Brown Hawker, Common Darter, Emperor, Four-spotted Chaser, Ruddy Darter Dragonflies.
Butterflies: Comma, Green-veined White, Holly Blue, Large White, Meadow Brown, Peacock, Ringlet, Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Speckled Wood Butterflies.
Plus: 7-spot and 18-spot Ladybirds; Soldier Beetles; Various Bees; Hoverflies; Spiders and Wasps.

The hot and humid weather continues. Although recently it has been mercifully cooler and slightly cloudier in the mornings. Today the hot and humid weather started just after midday.

The trains were slightly busier than of late, the school holidays now in full swing with families on days out, taking advantage of the weather. Indeed, the Reserve itself was a little bit busier as well. Yes, there were the usual dog-walkers; joggers and cyclists (damn the Tour de France!) but also lots of families, although strangely the Hides were quite empty.

Today was a slightly shorter trip than normal - I'm wilting under the hot sun. I must try and get out earlier than the 10 to 3.30 shift I did today. There might also be less annoying flies around. And the light would be a bit less harsher, for the photography.

There were two really good highlights today. First up were a family of Oystercatchers just to the right of the viewpoint. Two adults and three juveniles giving great, close-up views, with the noisy juves chasing the adults begging for food. Then, around the Dragonfly Trail, my first Common and Ruddy Darters of the season. The Common was a juvenile male while the Ruddy was my first sighting on this Reserve.

Other sightings of note today were 2 LRPs; 4 Little Egrets; 4 Common Sandpipers; 20+ Common Terns and 30+ Lapwing. There were fleeting sightings of a Kingfisher over Hollycross lake; a lone GCG sitting on a nest in the middle of the same lake and a juvenile Whitethroat to the right of the viewing area. There was even the odd sight of a Pied Wagtail jumping up in the air, trying to catch a dragonfly.

I spotted 11 species of butterfly as well today, one Holly Blue amongst them. 2 male and 1 female Banded Demoiselles were seen from the usual bridge but, alas, nowhere else. They seem to be struggling a bit around here. A single 7-spot and an 18-spot Ladybird were seen near the river off the Trail, along with lots of Soldier Beetles. A couple of Emperor Dragons were seen patrolling the ponds, one of which was being harassed by a Common Blue damselfly who must have had a death wish; while a female Brown Hawker was seen ovipositing.

There were 2 sets of cattle around the Reserve, the evidence being lots of manure along the trails, which I somehow managed to avoid and a lot of the reed-beds had been flattened, especially around the Dragonfly Trail. I visited 2 Hides, the James and the White. Unfortunately, there wasn't too much action to be seen from either. But I did notice that the trees holding the feeders outside the James had been pushed over a little bit with the feeders now quite close to the ground. The Swallows nest that had been created inside the White Hide had been abandoned.

It may have been a short visit today but it was nonetheless another lovely day out in the sunshine.

And it enabled me to escape all the Royal Baby TV coverage. I'm no Roundhead, but neither am I a Cavalier.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Fishers Green, Cheshunt - 22nd July, 2013

Weather: Thunderstorm initially, brightening up later. Very, very hot and humid for most of the day. Slight cloud and breeze.

Birds seen:
Great Crested Grebe; Cormorant; Little Egret; Grey Heron; Mute Swan; Greylag Goose; Canada Goose; Mallard; Gadwall; Tufted Duck; Pochard; Moorhen; Coot; Lapwing; Green Sandpiper; Black-headed Gull; Common Tern; Woodpigeon; Stock Dove; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Green Woodpecker; Grey Wagtail; Wren (H); Dunnock (H); Robin; Blackbird; Song Thrush; Cetti's Warbler (H); Reed Warbler; Sedge Warbler; Blackcap; Chiffchaff; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Long-tailed Tit (H); Magpie; Jay; Carrion Crow; Chaffinch; Greenfinch; Goldfinch. Total: 41

Plus: Comma, Gatekeeper, Large White, Meadow Brown, Peacock, Red Admiral, Ringlet, Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood butterflies.
Plus: Azure, Banded Demoiselle, Blue-tailed, Common Blue, Red-eyed damselflies. Brown Hawker, Emperor, Four-spotted Chaser, Southern dragonflies.
Plus: Buff-tailed Bumblebee; Hoverfly; Long-jawed Orb Spider; Soldier Beetle.

It was forecast to be another humid, hot day with a distinct possibility of the odd thunderstorm in the late afternoon. But, just as I arrived at Cheshunt, the rain started and we had thunder and lightning for around 25 minutes. I had to shelter in the station for half-an-hour or more. But the storm soon moved on and I headed out, following groups of teens with maps, obviously on some sort of route march. I think they used to call it Orienteering?

I had ventured out early, on the 7.03, to try and avoid the humidity and the hot sun. I had also intended to try and locate some more Demoiselles, hopefully closer views of the females. I also wanted to see if the pair of GCGs who were sitting on eggs the last time I was here were now a family.

I had also intended to go straight to Fishers Green and not to the Hall Marsh Scrape. But I wasn't sure if there were going to be more storms so I changed plans and walked up to the Scrape, if only to shelter in the Hide. Before I got there a Grey Heron was fishing in a nearby pond, only about 10 meters away from me. I quickly got my camera out and tried to get a few shots. I was certain it would fly off as soon as it saw me but it just ignored me and carried on. It must have been very hungry for its breakfast.

I soon arrived at the Teal Hide and sat down. I immediately spotted a pair of Green Sandpipers feeding on the mudflat. Pairs of Little Egrets and Grey Herons were in stalk mode. There were 3 Lapwing out to the right in amongst a flock of Canadas. 2 more Egrets flew in, past a pair of Stock Doves sitting on one of the goalposts.

The skies had cleared and the sun was starting to shine through. I was eager to get to the GCGs so I headed off. On the trails were Brown Hawkers; Blue Damsels including at least one Azure; a Blackcap in good voice; a family of Chiffchaff flitting around the trees; a posing GCG; a singing Song Thrush; a tapping GSW; around 10 Greylags including juveniles feeding on the trail itself; a Four-spotted Chaser which posed for me; Common Terns fishing the rivers; butterflies in numbers; a Green Woodpecker fly-over; LTTs high in the trees and plenty of dog-walkers. In fact, quite a lot of people out today, no doubt taking advantage of the good weather.

At the bridge the usual Coots and Mutes were on show plus one GCG with a Humbug and plenty of ducks including Pochard. Then a Sedge Warbler posed on one of the reeds long enough for a few snaps. It was soon joined by another and they flew around the reeds chasing each other. At the Hooks Marsh car-park there were the usual array of Swans; Canadas and Greylags, all waiting to be fed. It was now starting to get very humid.

On the trail down to Fishers Green, on the relief channel, I spotted a lone Humbug swimming downriver. No adults were accompanying it. When I arrived at the nest I found it empty. No adults, no eggs and no chicks. The Humbug seemed a bit big for 2 weeks old. Whilst scanning the nest area with my Bins I spotted a couple of Red-eyed Damsels on one of the lilly-pads. Opposite the river, out on Seventy Acres lake, there were the usual suspects plus another pair of GCGs.

I reached the Bittern Hide only to find it still closed, due to vandalism. No re-opening date. So I took a seat by the feeding area and scanned the lake again. There was another GCG with a pair of chicks and at least 10 Common Terns in or around the rafts. Then I spotted a lone male Banded Demoiselle fluttering across the lake.

I soon started off down the trail to the Grebe Hide. There were more dragons, damsels and butterflies along the relief channel and I took the opportunity to check all the fishing points for my target. In between a Jay was flushed out, it didn't look too happy at me. It wasn't until the 3rd fishing point that I got my first close-up views of some male Demos as they flew by. So I decided to make myself comfortable and settle in to wait. Fortunately I didn't have to wait long, as a pair of Demos soon flew in and settled quite close. I reeled off a few dozen shots until I was fairly satisfied before moving on. 3 Canadas floated serenely by, giving me an odd look, while I took the photos.

At the Weir I flushed 1 Grey Wagtail, which was soon joined by 3 more before spotting what, at first, I thought was a hybrid Mallard/Pintail but was probably just a manky Mallard. There was also another GCG with a Humbug. 2 Grey Herons were feeding along the shoreline. Out to the right was a lone Little Egret.

Then, on the trail around to the Grebe Hide, I spotted a fluttering movement. It was a female Demo, on a leaf in the sun, quite far from any water. As I crept closer I spotted at least 2 more. All posing nicely in the sunshine. I then spent nearly an hour photographing them, when they allowed me to. They were soon joined by more, including at least one male. In fact, as my eyes got accustomed I found that this little area proved extremely fruitful as there must have been more than a dozen females around. Every step forward I took at least one female took to flight. I had never seen so many females at one time in one place. I always thought that they preferred fairly fast running water.

Further on down the trail I came across a fishing point where, to my amazement, the male equivalent was on display. Over and around the river there must have been a couple of dozen male Demos flying around, some settling on the river bank. Where I promptly sat down again and photographed any which ventured close and settled. I wanted to see some Demos today and I wasn't disappointed! Today was the best display I've ever seen.

It had taken me close on 2 hours to get to the Grebe Hide because of all the stops. Once settled in I took a cursory scan around and spotted at least 10 GCGs, one with a Humbug. And one pair had a nest not far in front of the Hide. Apart from them, out to the left it looked like Coot City; a few Canadas and the usual ducks, again including some Pochards. Then another guy came in and we had a good chat, mainly about the state of play regarding the Hides. Not only was the Bittern Hide closed due to vandalism, this Hide had most of its shutters missing.

Just as he left one of the GCGs swam up in front of the Hide and promptly caught what looked to be a Crayfish. Quite a big looking one, it took a minute or too to swallow it down. That was my cue for lunch. A few more Red-eyed Damsels were fluttering around just in front and I also noticed that, this time, the Cormorant roost was fairly quiet. They must have fledged.

I headed back, stopping off at the same areas as before, seeing much the same things. As the Bittern Hide was closed and the heat was getting to me, I decided to call it a day. And what a day it was!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Rye Meads - 19th July 13

Weather: Very hot and sunny, clouding up later. Slight breeze.

Totals: Birds-39/Butterflies-10/Dragons-2/Damsels-2/Others-7

Today was the only time I managed to get out on a visit this week, due to one thing or another. And it had to be a short, relaxing visit. So I chose RM because it is quite a small Reserve and has a closing time. And I didn't want to be out in the hot sun for too much of the time. Even with factor 50+.

I got there just on 10 and found I was only the second person to arrive. In fact I didn't encounter too many people on the Reserve all day, maybe around 10 or so. And they were mainly found in the Kingfisher Hide.

And there weren't too many birds about either. That time of year I guess, it looks as if it is part of the mid-breeding season moult. But the stars were undoubtedly the Green Sandpipers. 10 of them, in fact. All seen from the Draper Hide, either feeding or sleeping or flying around, calling. 10 Green Sandpipers sitting on the wall. I wasn't certain what would happen if one of them should accidentally fall. Sorry.

They were closely followed by a pair of Stock Doves. Yes, I did say Stock Doves. Their antics were quite amusing to watch. They were closely inspecting one of the Kestrel boxes on the pylon in front of the KF Hide. While they were inspecting and courting, one of the juvenile Kestrels was sitting on top of the other box, watching. 3 or 4 BHGs were also on or around the box. All of them keeping a wary eye on each other.

There were lots of adults with chicks or juveniles about. Mute Swans; Canada Geese; Mallards; Gadwall; Tufted Duck; Pochard and BHGs. Not forgetting Moorhens and Coots of course. There were even 2 juvenile Common Terns. But the stars here were about 8 or 9 newly-fledged Blue Tits, which fluttered about on a dead tree just to the right of the KF Hide. No blue on them and just a hint of yellow, they were still showing their gaping, yellow beaks.

Other than that, the female Marsh Harrier was seen right at the end of the visit, perched at the back end of the field; 35+ Lapwing dive-bombing each other; the male Kingfisher coming and going, mainly going and a female noisy, squawking Blackbird fighting off a pair of Magpies. But other than that it was mostly quiet on the bird front.

There were plenty of Butterflies about today, 10 species in all; lots of blue Damsels and a fair few Dragons, mainly Brown Hawkers.

The only other things of note were that the pollen was still about and still flying around, looking like snow, while the Thunderbugs were out today in force and were very irritating. Nearly all of the lakes and ponds were covered in the green weed, forming an emerald carpet. And the Reserve found itself downwind of the nearby Sewage Farm. Phew, it was a right pen and ink!

A very, very hot day in the sun, not too many people about. A quietish day but, nonetheless, a nice day out.

Unfortunately, on the way home, my connection at Broxbourne was cancelled, causing a slight delay. Every silver lining has a cloud.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Amwell Nature Reserve - 12th July 13

Weather: Cloudy and overcast for much of the morning. Sunny and very hot for the rest of the day.

Birds seen:
Great Crested Grebe; Cormorant; Little Egret; Grey Heron; Mute Swan; Greylag Goose; Canada Goose; Mallard; Wigeon; Gadwall; Tufted Duck; Pochard; Buzzard; Kestrel; Moorhen; Coot; Oystercatcher (H); Ringed Plover; Little Ringed Plover; Lapwing; Redshank; Black-headed Gull; Common Tern; Woodpigeon; Collared Dove; Swift; Kingfisher; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Green Woodpecker; Swallow; Grey Wagtail; Wren (H); Dunnock (H); Robin (H); Blackbird; Reed Warbler; Sedge Warbler; Blackcap; Chiffchaff; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Long-tailed Tit; Starling; Magpie; Carrion Crow; House Sparrow (H); Chaffinch; Goldfinch; Greenfinch (H); Reed Bunting. Total: 50

Plus: Grey Squirrel; Konic Ponies.
Plus: Azure, Banded Demoiselle, Blue-tailed, Common Blue, Red-eyed Damselflies; Black-tailed Skimmer, Brown Hawker, Emperor, Four-spotted Chaser Dragonflies.
Plus: Comma, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood Butterflies.
Plus: Bombardier Beetle; Longhorn Beetle; Spotted Crane Fly; Various Bees; Hoverflies; Spiders and Wasps.

Another hot day, another day at Amwell. Well, it was eventually hot - the day started cloudy and overcast, but by lunchtime the sun had burned through.

A shortish day out today as well, from 11 until 4.30. It's been a long, hot week at the office.

On the trail down to the Reserve I heard a pair of Oystercatchers and a Greenfinch. A couple of Common Terns were fishing the canal and this time there were only 4 or 5 Canadas swimming around.

At the viewing point we had 10 Little Egret; 30+ Lapwing; 3 LRPs; 1 Ringed Plover; 1 Redshank; 8 Grey Herons; 3 Swallows; 2 GCGs; the lone Wigeon; 12 or so Greylags; a Goldfinch and a few Reed Buntings.

Just before I got to the James Hide I spotted 3 female Blackcaps, 2 of which were juveniles. At the Hide 3 Magpies and a Grey Squirrel were feasting on the feeders. Juvenile Great and Blue Tits plus Chaffinches were waiting their turn. Reed Buntings were flying in and out. Moorhens and Coots were swimming around the pond. A Green Woodpecker and a Chiffchaff could be heard singing. A Grey Heron flew in and started preening, later joined by another one. A territorial dispute saw both fly off. On the feeders the Squirrel kept chasing off the Magpies. A Tufted Duck flew in and was immediately chased off by a Coot.

I moved off down the trail to the White Hide. On the way I saw 1 Tortoiseshell, 1 Meadow Brown and 1 Speckled Wood. There were actually quite a few butterflies around today. Sedge Warblers and LTTs were quite vocal around this area, with the latter showing quite well.

When I arrived at the Hide I found 3 Swallows flying in and out through the open windows. They had made a nest and were busy bringing in mud to finish it off. Outside there were now 15 Egrets; Lapwing were showing off their aerial display skills; 2 Grey Wagtails were out front, trying to catch one of half-a-dozen Large White butterflies that were congregating together on a mudflat. Then most of the birds suddenly flew off. I checked the skies for any predators but the perpetrators were 4 cattle which had moved into the area, forcing everything to move off. That was my cue to move on.

I arrived at the twin lakes looking for dragons and damsels. All the damsels were around, including the Red-eyes. The damsels were also out in force today, lots of Blues about. A Brown Hawker was circling one of the lakes until it was chased off by an Emperor. More Emperors were around but strangely none of the Four-spotted Chasers which were about from the last visit.

I quickly checked the bridge for the Demoiselles and found 2 males basking in the hot sun. A Reed Warbler was moving through the foliage. On the track to the Dragonfly Trail I saw a Buzzard high in the sky while a lone Common Tern flew over.

On the ponds in the Trail all the usual damsels were about again. More Emperors and a Four-spotted Chaser were around and, while watching them, I heard, then saw, a Kingfisher fly over the lake. My walk down to the river to search for more Demoiselles again proved fruitless. There were a few insects about, notably a lone Longhorn Beetle. The midges, flies and thunderbugs were really irritating today. But on the plus side there was hardly any pollen.

A Kestrel flew over and I flushed out 3 Green Woodpeckers while I made my way back to the Trail. Back at the bridge 2 more Demoiselles had appeared plus a Comma. And back at the twin lakes I had close-up views of a Four-spotted Chaser and a Black-tailed Skimmer. Out on one of the lakes a GCG was swimming around.

The only thing of note from my second visit to the James Hide was the appearance of a GSW on the feeder. While back at the viewing point a second Redshank had appeared.

There weren't too many people about today, not even many dog-walkers but there were a few familiar faces about. Another very nice day out in the sunshine. Long may it continue.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Amwell Nature Reserve - 9th July 13

Weather: Sunny and very hot all day. Slight cloud later with a mercifully cool breeze.

Birds seen:
Great Crested Grebe; Cormorant; Little Egret; Grey Heron; Mute Swan; Greylag Goose; Canada Goose; Mallard; Wigeon; Gadwall; Tufted Duck; Pochard; Sparrowhawk; Buzzard; Kestrel; Hobby; Moorhen; Coot; Little Ringed Plover; Lapwing; Redshank; Black-headed Gull; Lesser Black-backed Gull; Common Tern; Woodpigeon; Stock Dove; Swift; Kingfisher; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Green Woodpecker; Swallow; Grey Wagtail; Pied Wagtail; Wren; Dunnock (H); Robin (H); Blackbird; Cetti's Warbler (H);
Reed Warbler; Sedge Warbler; Blackcap; Chiffchaff; Blue Tit (H); Great Tit; Long-tailed Tit; Treecreeper (H); Starling; Magpie; Jay; Carrion Crow; Chaffinch; Goldfinch; Greenfinch (H); Reed Bunting. Total: 54

Plus: Grey Squirrel; Konic Ponies; Rabbit.
Plus: Azure, Banded Demoiselle, Blue-tailed, Common Blue, Red-eyed Damselflies; Brown Hawker, Emperor, Four-spotted Chaser, Southern Dragonflies.
Plus: Comma, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood Butterflies.
Plus: Spotted Crane Fly; Various Bees; Hoverflies; Spiders and Wasps.

It was another very hot, humid day today. A little bit more cloud and a thankfully cool breeze. I had intended to get out and about very early on to avoid the hottest part of the day, but events conspired to delay me until around 10-ish. Indeed, the train down was cancelled and I missed my connection to spend a good 35 minutes or so hanging around station platforms.

Anyway, there was nothing too eventful happening on the way down other than hearing Reed Buntings; Greenfinches and seeing about 35+ Canada Geese until I got to the main viewing point.

Some of the usual twitchers were around, again grumbling 'there's nothing much about'. Well, I guess I'm easily pleased because after 10 minutes of scanning Great Hardmead Lake I spotted 14 Little Egrets, mainly grouped together on the far island outside the White Hide; 4 Grey Herons were in amongst them; 4 Common Terns; 2 LRPs; lots of Lapwing; a Grey Wagtail and masses of Canadas, Coots and BHGs. Then a Buzzard was seen high over the skyline; a pair of Starlings were picking their way through the Coots and Geese and then a 3rd LRP turned up. When a Redshank turned up and about 4 or 5 Swallows flew by I started to wonder what more did these guys wish to see? A Great Bustard perhaps?

And then I was delighted to find that the LRP chick had survived since my last visit and was happily picking its way around the near island. I had moved down to the mini view point to see if this and the Redshank chicks were about. I didn't see the Redshanklets but a second adult then appeared. 4 more Common Terns appeared and I could see a couple more pairs on one of the rafts. 2 more Grey Herons had turned up, while a lone GCG was moving along to the right of the tree island. Behind him were about 10 Greylag Geese.

I had intended today to be a dragon hunt day but my bird list was already quite high. There were lots of butterflies about again today including lots of Ringlets and Meadow Browns; a few Small Tortoiseshells and Skippers. Lots of Blue damsels were around, most so skittish they flew up and away before I even got within a few yards of them.

Because of the humidity I decided to try the Dragonfly Trail straight away and try and avoid the heat of the midday sun. Well, you know what they say about mad dogs and Englishmen? On the way I saw a few Goldfinches popping overhead and a Chiffchaff.

At the twin lakes I only saw about 2 or 3 Red-eyed Damsels amongst all the Common Blue and Blue-tailed. A Brown Hawker was flying about plus a couple of Emperors, one a female ovipositing. I only saw three Azures all day, one of which was on one of the lilly-pads. Then I witnessed about 3 or 4 Four-spotted Chasers buzzing each other and then a male Emperor joined in the action. I was lucky enough to see one of the Chasers perch up quite close for a few shots and then the Emperor settled down too not far off the Chaser.

I was watching the female Emperor egg-laying through my Bins when I saw a male Banded Demoiselle fly past in the background. Looking further towards the back of the lakes I could see more Emperors and Chasers having their own little battles. Then a woman appeared allowing her dog to dive into the lake to fetch a stick or something, scaring everything off, which prompted me to move off towards the Trail. In fact, there were quite a few dog-walkers on the trails today, far outnumbering the Birders.

At the bridge I paused to search for the Demoiselles I had seen here last time and sure enough a male flew into view and soon disturbed a second. At the Trail nothing new was seen but, at the Orchid Garden (no orchids), I spotted another Emperor, this one with a damaged wing.

It was around midday by this time and the only thing I can say is 'scorchio!'. I was working up quite a sweat. A shimmering heat haze could be seen out on the lakes. The pollen was still about, still making a bee-line for my nose, but thankfully it seems to be coming to an end.

Lots more butterflies were about, including the odd Comma and Meadow Brown. Lots of Blue damsels were also present, again probably fed up with being disturbed. Out on the lake I spotted yet another Emperor ovipositing. A couple of Blackcaps were warbling their rich, musical song in the trees. During a water stop I could see a GCG swimming along with some nesting material. And, while I was sat down watching him through the Bins, about a dozen Canadas had crept up around me to within a couple of feet. They allowed me a few close-up photos but received nothing in return, so they moved off.

Just before exiting the Trail I flushed a Green Woodpecker. And then a Jay cried out and disappeared into the trees. Nothing of note was seen by the time I arrived at the White Hide. Looking out from the Hide there were the usual 50+ Canadas; the Egrets and the Herons hadn't moved and were still preening not far from the Hide. I was hopeful that one of them might move in closer. Out to the left a Hobby flew around in tight circles before disappearing; 3 GCGs were out on the lake, one of them looked like they had a humbug on its' back. Then a LBBG appeared putting up most of the BHGs and Lapwing. It soon got mobbed and flew off.

At the James Hide I immediately spotted another Grey Heron at the back of the lake, hunting. A GSW flew in onto the feeders, which today were full. Immature Great Tits were about as were a pair of Reed Buntings. A Grey Squirrel and a couple of Magpies appeared and monopolised the feeders for a few minutes. Then the Heron started to get closer to the Hide but was almost disturbed by two people who had obviously climbed the fence and had started to walk through the reeds, making a lot of noise. Fortunately, they didn't stay long and the Heron continued to get closer. It got to within camera range and I got a few shots of it catching a couple of fish before it located the noise of the camera shutter and, seeing me leering at it, flew off.

After a spot of lunch I felt refreshed enough to walk back to the Dragonfly Trail to try my luck again. On the way I flushed a pair of Jays. At the lakes it was a dog-free zone for about 10 minutes, allowing me a few more good shots of the Chasers plus an Common Blue Damsel posing on a lilly-pad. Again at the bridge I spotted 6 Demoiselles, 3 of each, all searching for the diminishing sunshine and trying to avoid the creeping shadows. And, while watching them, I heard, then spotted, a Kingfisher fly past, under the bridge. During all that excitement I had also heard a Treecreeper in the background.

Entering the Dragonfly Trail again I flushed 2 Green Woodpeckers. On the ponds there were more Chasers and Emperors and then I spotted another male Demoiselle, this time posing in the sun and allowing me a close up view. It was a good decision to visit the Trail again.

By now I was starting to struggle and so made my way back to the viewing point, seeing another familiar face. I chatted to him for a few minutes before heading for home.

Another top day out!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Rye Meads - 8th July 13

Weather: Very hot and sunny, clouding up later. Slight breeze.

Birds seen:
Little Grebe; Cormorant; Little Egret; Grey Heron; Mute Swan; Canada Goose; Mallard; Gadwall; Teal; Tufted Duck; Pochard; Sparrowhawk; Marsh Harrier; Buzzard; Kestrel; Pheasant; Moorhen; Coot; Little Ringed Plover; Lapwing; Green Sandpiper; Black-headed Gull; Lesser Black-backed Gull; Common Tern; Woodpigeon; Stock Dove; Swift; Kingfisher; Great Spotted Woodpecker (H); Green Woodpecker; Grey Wagtail; Pied Wagtail; Wren; Dunnock; Robin (H); Blackbird; Cetti's Warbler (H); Reed Warbler; Sedge Warbler; Chiffchaff; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Long-tailed Tit; Magpie; Carrion Crow; Chaffinch; Goldfinch; Greenfinch (H); Reed Bunting. Total: 49

Plus: Comma, Large White, Red Admiral, Ringlet, Six-spot Burnet, Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood Butterflies.
Plus: Blue-tailed and Common Blue Damselflies. Black-tailed Skimmer, Brown Hawker, Southern Hawker dragonflies.
Plus: Water Buffalo; Rabbit; Spotted Crane Fly; various Bees, Hoverflies and Wasps.

It was another scorchio day today, but with a mercifully cool breeze. There was also some cloud cover later in the afternoon.

Arriving just after 10 I made my way to the Draper Hide, firstly checking for Water Voles and interesting insects. I found neither and soon found myself sitting in an empty Hide. Earlier, on the train, I had spotted 3 Little Egrets; a GCG and heard a GSW on the way to the Reserve.

There were already lots of butterflies about, mainly Ringlets and Small Tortoiseshells at first. Plus lots of blues damsels. It was also good to see lots of bees about.

From the Hide I could already see 2 Common Terns; 1 Green Sandpiper; 1 LRP and 1 Lapwing. On closer inspection this increased to 4 Common Terns; 3 Green Sandpipers; 3 LRPs and 35+ Lapwing. The resident pair of Little Grebes swam past the Hide and looked resplendent in their colourful plumage. The usual totals of ducks and geese were also out on the lake, mostly Gadwall. Then a party of schoolchildren came in and I decided to take the opportunity to head off.

Outside on the trails I could hear a Chiffchaff singing, the first of several. Then I spotted a Small Skipper and a couple of 6-spot Ladybirds, hopefully the first of many from now on. A Greenfinch was pumping out its wheezy call and then I saw a Kestrel fly over. Just before I got to the twin Hides a Cetti's called out.

When I arrived at the Hides I found 2 more school parties already in situ. They soon left though, but I didn't stay too long in either as there were only Coots; BHGs and Common Terns around. There were over 20 Mute Swans swimming around.

I headed off and soon found myself in the Kingfisher Hide. Which was packed out. After 5 minutes some people left and I managed to sit down next to a familiar face, another regular Birder. We chatted while the  male KF flew in and out, showing quite well all day, bringing in food for the newly-hatched young. But he only came in close twice, both times with his back to me. I didn't see the female all day - she must have stayed in the nest. There were also a pair of juvenile Kestrels in one of the boxes on the pylon. Both keenly looking out, waiting for an adult. There were a group of LTTs singing out to the right until a Sparrowhawk flew in and scattered them.

I spent about an hour here before deciding to move off down the trail to the Warbler Hide. Which took me about 30 minutes as I continually stopped to check for insects. Mainly damsels and butterflies again and the odd Spotted Crane Fly. But I did see a Brown Hawker, which was having a territorial dispute with a Southern Hawker. And then a very small Longhorn Beetle flew in and landed on a leaf.

Just before I got to the Warbler a Red Admiral flew by. From the Hide all I could see were a pair of Reed Buntings and a few Lapwings. There were also Reed and Sedge Warblers flying back and forth. As I was scanning the sky a Green Woodpecker flashed past me. Then a Common Tern flew over, followed by a pair of Little Egrets. I was waiting to see either a Hobby or the female Marsh Harrier but, with neither making an appearance, after an hour I decided to head back. Just outside the Hide, on the walkway, I heard, then saw, the Harrier. It was quite high at first, then she swooped down low over the field, landing on one of her favourite posts. She was soon followed by a Buzzard, circling even higher. Brilliant!

On the way back I spotted a pair of Brown Hawkers having their own territorial dispute. Then another Kestrel hovered over me, then dived down and flew back up with prey. I wasn't sure what it was but it was now history. Then I witnessed a fight between a LTT and a Chiffchaff. It looked like the LTT won as the Chiffie flew off. Another Small Skipper flew in and landed on a flower, allowing a few shots while soon after an immature Black-tailed Skimmer gave me an equally good photo opportunity.

Crossing the bridge towards the KF Hide there was another Brown Hawker patrolling its territory. I then spent another hour in the KF hide, seeing pretty much the same thing again with the addition of a Grey Wagtail which flew up onto the nearest posing post.

Time was now against me and I only stopped briefly at the twin Hides to confirm there was nothing new there. I quickly walked back to the Draper.

This time I saw a total of 7 Green Sandpipers, 6 Common Terns, a Pied Waggie and a Teal. One of the Sandpipers came in close and allowed a few photos. The Pied chased off what looked like a juvenile Grey Wagtail and was then in turn chased off by a BHG. The other BHGs then mobbed an LBBG which flew in too close.

On the way back to the Visitor Center I spotted my first 6-spot Burnets of the year, followed by my second view of the Marsh Harrier. By now it was starting to cloud over but I was done for the day.