Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Amwell Nature Reserve - 27th August 13

Weather: Cloudy early on, sunny, blue skies later. Slight breeze.

Birds Total: 41
Plus: Blue-tailed, Common Blue, Red-eyed Damselflies; Brown Hawker, Common Darter, Migrant Hawker, Ruddy Darter Dragonflies.
Plus: Comma, Gatekeeper, Green-veined White, Large White, Painted Lady, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Speckled Wood Butterflies. Mother of Pearl Moth.
Plus: 18-spot Ladybird; Hornet's Nest; Short-winged Conehead; Ruby-tailed Wasp; Long-jawed Orb and Cross Spiders; Bees and Hoverflies.

It was a bit cloudy early on, with a cool breeze and I was thinking that I should have brought a fleece with me. But it soon brightened up when the sun came out and I was glad I hadn't.

I arrived at the viewpoint a little earlier than normal and found a fair few people already there. I recognised some familiar faces and got chatting to them. There were quite a few birds out on the lake but nothing really out of the ordinary. Although that, in itself, is important if you are keeping a list of sightings. Continued, regular, visits to the same places over a period of time is of great importance to highlight the habits of our flora and fauna. Personally, I just hope that it highlights the parlous state of our wildlife and that someone, somewhere and somehow they get the protection they need. So I continue to visit my local sites and continue to document them.

Actually, I dread to think what future generations will think of the current one. As my mother used to say, better to have been born now than later. They probably won't see half as much as we can now, so I guess I'm lucky to have my time now.

I'd better get off my soapbox and tell you of my day. From the viewpoint, over the period of about an hour or so, I spotted a Hobby perched on a telegraph pole across the lake; 80+ Lapwing were being put up every few minutes; a Great-crested Grebe; lots of Canadas flying in, akin to Bomber Command; a lone Greylag; a Buzzard flying the thermals; a Little Egret flew in and landed in amongst the reeds in front of the viewpoint; Pochard, Shoveler and Teal were in and around all the BHGs and Coots.

Just in front of me, on the Buddleia, there were suddenly lots of butterflies appearing. Mainly Small Torts, the most I've ever seen but the star was a lone Painted Lady which also appeared, the first one I've seen this year. Mother-of-Pearl moths were around as was a lone 18-spot Ladybird which look as if they are having a poor year.

Small Tortoiseshell
Painted Lady
Then a HMWT van slowly drove by with the words 'Safety first at all times' on the side of the door. It amused me to see the driver on his mobile phone.

I eventually moved off down the track, heading towards the Dragonfly Trail. Just as I started I spotted a Migrant Hawker perched up, begging to be photographed. Then I found myself on LTT highway, as they flew past, one by one, all calling to each other.

Migrant Hawker
At the twin lakes I spotted a couple of Common Blue damselflies, oddly absent from Rye Meads which is only just down the road. And I was just bemoaning the fact that there weren't any more Red-eyed damsels when I spotted one sat on one of the lilly-pads. There being nothing else around, other than Coots on the ponds, I moved off to the bridge.

A Buzzard circled around and above me. I must have looked like his next meal. What time's lunch? At the bridge I searched in vain for any Banded Demoiselles. There were a few butterflies on the nearby buddleia and I could hear Blackcap and Grey Heron.

Lords and Ladies!
Just after I entered the Dragonfly Trail I immediately spotted a Kestrel sat on one of the nearby telegraph poles. I tried to get close for a photo but it was having none of it and flew off.

Another Migrant Hawker
At the start of the walkway I spotted a male Ruddy Darter, a male Common Darter and a pair of mating Common Darters. Soon, they were all joined by numerous Migrant Hawkers, one of which perched up only a few feet from me. Whilst photographing these guys I spotted what later turned out to be a Ruby-tailed Wasp and a Short-winged Conehead. Although I'm not certain about the ID of the Conehead. I also witnessed a male Common Damselfly get captured by a spider.

Short-winged Conehead?
An unfortunate end for a Common Blue.
Looking out over the lake the GCG nest seen on earlier visits had yielded up at least one chick, with one of the parents in attendance. Other birds on the lake were the usual Coots and a few Tufties and Pochard. At the last pond I found another couple of male Ruddy Darters and a female Common Darter, all of which kindly posed for me.

Ruddy Darter
Female Common Darter
Just before I crossed the bridge towards the river I sat down on a bench to take a quick drink. I headed off, leaving behind my bag. Finding nothing of note around the river area I arrived back at the bench to find the bag still there. My stomach was grateful for my luck.

It was very hot around now and said stomach was complaining so I headed back and sat in the James Hide. Not too much around here but there was a Chiffchaff and a Sedge Warbler about. A GSW was tempted in to the feeder but saw me and thought better of it. The Hornet's nest was still present when I was heading towards the White Hide. Looks like they have decided to stay for a while. The only thing to report from the White Hide was the sight of one of 3 Grey Herons catch and eat a large fish. I also watched the cattle coppice the reeds.

Coppice work in action
Not much else to report after that, I headed back to the viewpoint, met up with Jenny Sherwen, the new Reserve Officer and had a quick chat with some of the guys still around, before heading home.