Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Amwell Nature Reserve - 19th August 13

Weather: Mix of sun and cloud. Mainly cloud.

Birds Total: 34
Plus: Blue-tailed, Common Blue Damselflies; Brown Hawker, Common Darter, Migrant Hawker, Ruddy Darter, Southern Dragonflies.
Plus: Comma, Gatekeeper, Green-veined White, Large White, Meadow Brown, Peacock, Red Admiral, Ringlet, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Speckled Wood Butterflies. Silver Y Moth.
Plus: 7-spot and Harlequin Ladybirds; Dark Bush Cricket; Hornet's Nest; Long-jawed Orb Spider; Various Bees; Hoverflies and Spiders.

It was time for another visit to Amwell. Although I wasn't sure what weather I was going to get. For the last 4 or 5 days the forecast for today was for sunny skies. Then last night, abruptly, they changed their forecast to sunny skies in the morning and clouds in the afternoon. Well, it turned out to be a little cloudy in the morning, becoming overcast before midday. At least it was still warm. My Granddad's knees were better at forecasting the weather!

I had intended to get there a little early today, so as to take advantage of the 'predicted' good weather, but I remembered that the train connections would make me wait for upto 30 minutes or more. The earliest train that gave me the best connection was the 8.48, so I arrived at the Reserve around 9.30-ish.

A few people were already there, including a few familiar faces. One of which mentioned that there wasn't much about today. I don't know about anyone else but I just enjoy going out for the day, regardless of what I see. There may not have been much about but it's much better than working in an office. I should know, I worked in an office for over 35 years.

Anyway, on the way up I spotted a pair of Migrant Hawkers, one of which landed whilst the other hovered in front of me. From the Viewing Point, there were numerous Coot, must have been over a 100; 50+ Lapwing; 55+ Greylag Geese; 65+ Canada Geese; a Common Sandpiper; a Great Crested Grebe feeding a juvenile; 1 LBBG; 3 Pochard and a fair few Cormorants. I spent about 30 minutes here before deciding to walk straight to the Dragonfly Trail, again trying to take advantage of the sunny weather.

On the way I stopped off at the usual places, the twin lakes for Red-eyed Damsels - none were found; and the bridge for any Banded Demoiselles. There were none there either. But I did see 1 Red Admiral; 1 Silver Y Moth and 1 Migrant Hawker.

On the Trail itself I initially saw a Small Tortoiseshell; a couple of Green-veined Whites; lots of Peacocks, mainly feeding on the buddleia and I also heard a couple of Green Woodpeckers and a Blackcap. When I got to the ponds I scared off a Grey Heron that had been stalking the Perch. I immediately started looking for the Emerald damsels I had seen on my last visit, but it proved to be fruitless. There were plenty of Common Blues and a few Blue-tailed. There were a sprinkling of Migrant Hawkers and Brown Hawkers and then the Common Darters started appearing, mainly on the wooden walkway, some mating and ovipositing, nearly all allowing me photo opportunities. A Chiffchaff was singing out its soft 'hueet' in the nearby trees. Spiders and Crickets were also quite visible today.

Lots of similar stuff were found along the river, including lots more butterflies and ladybirds, Harlequins among them. A Jay squawked somewhere in the nearby Woods. I walked back to the Ponds and hung around for another 30 minutes before taking a break for lunch on a nearby bench by Hollycross Lake. Out on the lake 2 GCGs were still sitting on a nest, while a Grey Heron flew across. Then, just as I had taken a bite out of my sandwich, I spotted a Ruddy Darter land nearby. It gave me the run-around for a minute or two before settling for a couple of shots. They are always nice to see, even more redder than their cousins, the Common Darter.

After lunch I moved back to the James Hide, mainly for a sit down than anything else. On the way there I saw quite a few Silver Y Moths on various buddleia, the most I've ever seen in one place. There being nothing from the James I moved down the trail to the White Hide. The recently reported Hornet's nest was found on the way, in one of the dead tree trunks and I nearly stirred it up by getting too close, so I backed off. Lots of them were flying in and out of the nest, all around me and I managed to get a few poor shots. I
moved on a bit quick though!

From the White Hide the same birds could be seen plus the male Wigeon, which was now eclipsing; a second Common Sandpiper flew in onto one of the little islands. Amongst all the Canadas I somehow managed to spot a single Barnacle Goose, asleep. Then 2 Little Egrets made an appearance, neither of which came close in. Out to my left a Hobby flew past. Then I witnessed lots of Dragon action, with about half-a-dozen of them flying around buzzing each other, like WWII fighter pilots. A few notable absences today were Common Terns; Reed and Sedge Warblers, the first of the migrants to disappear? Passerines were also very quiet again today, a few heard but not seen. But the berries were starting to appear already, especially the blackberries. Hopefully this will bring them all back out.

There were a fair few people about the area, plenty coming and going, in and out of the Hides. Surprisingly there weren't too many dog-walkers; joggers or cyclists. That made a nice change.

The weather had clouded over completely by 3-ish so I decided to call it a day and headed home. I don't know about anyone else, but I had rather a good day.