Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Amwell Nature Reserve - 1st July 13

Weather: Mix of sun and cloud early on, clouding over completely pm.

Birds seen:
Great Crested Grebe; Cormorant; Little Egret; Grey Heron; Mute Swan; Greylag Goose; Canada Goose; Mallard; Wigeon; Shoveler; Gadwall; Tufted Duck; Pochard; Sparrowhawk; Buzzard; Pheasant (H); Water Rail; Moorhen; Coot; Little Ringed Plover; Lapwing; Redshank; Black-headed Gull; Common Tern;
Woodpigeon; Collared Dove (H); Swift; Wren; Dunnock; Robin; Blackbird; Cetti's Warbler (H); Reed Warbler; Sedge Warbler; Blackcap (H); Chiffchaff; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Treecreeper (H); Starling; Magpie; Carrion Crow; House Sparrow (H); Chaffinch; Greenfinch (H); Reed Bunting. Total: 46

Plus: Konic Ponies; Rabbit.
Plus: Azure, Banded Demoiselle, Blue-tailed, Common Blue, Red-eyed Damselflies; Black-tailed Skimmer, Emperor, Four-spotted Chaser Dragonflies.
Plus: Ringlet, Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood Butterflies.
Plus: 6-spot Ladybird; Hoverfly; Longhorn Beetle. Various Bees; Spiders and Wasps.

After last week's fairly successful insect hunt I decided to try and continue today. There was a small measure of success with my first Longhorn Beetle and Ladybird. There was also a first sighting of a Ringlet and a Large Skipper. I concentrated on the Damsels and Dragons but again with mixed success. There was only one male Banded Demoiselle seen but plenty of Red-eyed Damselflies.

Longhorn Beetle Rutpela maculata
On the bird front the stars were the chicks. Plenty of them about including a very good view of a lone LRP and a pair of Redshank. Lots of other youngsters about, Coots; Moorhen; Mallard; Mute Swan; Canadas and even a juvenile Water Rail. The Lapwing chicks have almost grown up and the BHGs had young at various ages.

I had arrived a bit later than last week, just after 10. On the way 55 Canada Geese were swimming up the river. There were also sightings of 3 Small Tortoiseshells and a 6-spot Ladybird. This was the first red ladybird I've seen this year.

At the viewing point there were at least 8 Little Egrets on show around the lake. 17 had been seen earlier in the day according to the sightings board. Away to the right two Mute Swans were having a right old barney and it went on for at least 10 minutes, with plenty of neck-biting. Common Terns were coming and going and there were at least 30+ Lapwings around. I moved down to the lesser viewing point and this was where I saw the Little Ringed Ploverlet and the 2 Redshanklets. I hung around here for around half-a-hour before moving off to the James Hide.

The weather wasn't too bad at this point, still quite sunny with a few fluffy clouds. But it clouded over quite badly later on in the afternoon with just a few minutes more of sun. But at least it was quite warm. And about time too.

Looking out from the James gave me another, better view of the juvenile Water Rail, just before it was chased off by a Coot. Another Little Egret flew over while a Cetti's called out from the reed-beds. Reed and Sedge Warblers were everywhere and juvenile Great Tits were visiting the feeders. When the Magpies let them.

I decided to head off to the Dragonfly Trail while the sun was still shining. But I stopped off first at the twin lakes on the way to find the Red-eyed Damsels.

There were plenty of them about today, mostly sitting on the lilly-pads. All the Blues were with them and nearly all were very skittish, not allowing me within 3 feet of them. The first walk-through on the Trail itself was disappointing. No Dragons, just Damsels. But on the return journey a few turned up - an Emperor; 4 or 5 Four-spotted and a Black-tailed Skimmer, this one very much alive.

In between, by the river, on the hunt for the Demoiselles again, I found the path obstructed by a big family group of Canadas. I had to avoid them by walking through nettles. Ouch! But I did find a male Demoiselle, a small one, resting on another nettle. This was where I also found the Ringlet and the Skipper. On the way back I stopped off again at the bridge to see if the Demoiselle pair were still around. I didn't see them this time but didn't stay long as pollen was coming in thick and fast on a stiff breeze. Guess where most of it was heading?

There were only a few people about today, a couple of which I had met before, including Dave, the volunteer from Rye Meads. A couple of joggers and a several dog-walkers plus a sprinkling of cyclists. But I had my eyes on the vegetation looking for insects. I even missed seeing Hobbys. But I did see a Sparrowhawk flash past on my way to the White Hide. Here I was pleased to see the mess from last week had been cleaned up. About 4 Little Egrets, juveniles, flew off in formation and circled the lake before landing back in the trees. A lone GCG imperiously swam by. A Redshank threatened to walk up close but was spooked by a BHG.

Another Little Egret did fly in close and land for a few minutes before spotting me and flying off again. I really must change my aftershave.

Back at the viewing point the Redshanks came tantalisingly close in again. The LRP chick was again giving great views. Swifts were again feeding overhead and high in the distant sky there was a lone Buzzard.

But by now the clouds had arrived in force so I headed for home. I'm hoping that the lone Demoiselle will be the first of many in the days to come.