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.