Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Amwell Nature Reserve - 4th November 13

Weather: Sunny, blue skies. Slight cloud later. Cold wind.

Birds Total: 39
Plus: Common Darter Dragonfly.
Plus: Caddis Fly; Hornet's Nest.

It was a fine, sunny day, albeit with a cold wind. And today it was Amwell's turn for a visit. The journey down by train was slow and deliberate, due to the recent rains with flooding a problem. But the flood waters proved very fruitful for the birds. Among the many Gulls and Geese were a pair of Little Egrets and a Grey Heron fishing among the many small, newly created ponds.

And on the trail upto the Reserve there was more evidence of last week's storm. Trees, branches and debris were scattered all along the trail. But today there was no storm, only blue skies. On the walk up there were over 20 Canada Geese with Blackbird; Dunnock and Robin all singing a welcome.

I arrived at the main viewing point to find quite a few people already there. Most of them were familiar faces. There were plenty of birds on view, mainly Gulls and Coots. There were a fair sprinkling of Gadwall; Tufted Duck and Cormorant. Plus 3 Great Crested Grebes; a lone Little Grebe; 4 Grey Herons; a
lone Wigeon; over a dozen Shoveler; a couple of Pochard; 10 Snipe and around 35 Lapwing. The skies gave up a Buzzard; a Kestrel and a Red Kite. I spent about an hour here enjoying the view and the birds. Before I moved off I also spotted a Jay flying over; a Pheasant near the White Hide and the only
dragonfly I found all day, a Common Darter between viewing points.

At the James Hide there didn't seem to be much about at first, only a lone Moorhen hoovering up the remnants of the feeders, which had now risen to 4; 2 Blue Tits on the feeders and another Buzzard in the sky. Not long afterwards a Robin turned up and I watched as it puffed itself up every few minutes, trying to
keep warm. A lone Dunnock also appeared and there was another Jay flyover, while the Buzzard count rose to 6, all gliding the thermals in the distant sky over the far tree-line. I decided to persevere a while longer and eventually I was rewarded by a Kingfisher flying in and landing on a stick just in front of the
Hide. It was a bit too quick for a photo but it was the first time I have seen one from this Hide.

On the trail around to the White Hide I stopped off to see how the Hornet's nest was doing. There was only one Hornet on guard duty. Maybe the rest were having a nap.

There wasn't a great deal of difference looking out from the White Hide over Great Hardmead Lake other than a Little Egret foraging, shaking its feet in the water. There were about half-a-dozen people in here too. More familiar faces. I didn't spend too long here but just before I left the Little Egret count rose to 3 and there were also about 5 or 6 more Wigeon out there.

I headed off to visit the twin lagoons to see if there were any Dragons about, but I couldn't find any. The lone Darter I saw earlier will probably be the last one of the season. So I walked down to Tumbling Bay Lake which also proved to be just as fruitless. Although on the walk back I did hear a Green Woodpecker.

I then found myself back at the James Hide, where I had just sat down when the Kingfisher flew in again and landed on the same stick, posed for a few seconds then flew off again before I could aim the camera. So I settled in to see if it would come back. After about 20 minutes it did return but just flew past from right to left, its' turquoise and orange plumage shining in the sunshine. But at least I saw one. Other than that Great and Blue Tits turned up to the feeders as did a flock of LTTs. A little Wren also appeared out in the open and gave a quick, explosive rendition. For a little bird it has a loud voice.

It was high time I also visited the Gladwin Hide as I hadn't been down there in a while. The other reason was that a Goldeneye had been seen today. But not by me unfortunately. Amazingly though, there were over 200 LBBGs around the lake. And on the way back to the viewing area a Kestrel flew in and landed on a tree beside the trail. But it was a bit too dark now for a photo.

I had a quick look around the lake again before heading off. Another good day out.