Saturday, 22 February 2014

Amwell Nature Reserve - 16th February 14

Weather: Sunny, blue skies.

Birds Total: 46
Plus: Konik Pony; Muntjac; Rabbit.

Today saw a rare dry, sunny day so, even though it was a Sunday, I decided to head off to Amwell. I don't usually go out at the weekend mainly due to engineering work on the trains, but dry, sunny days are as rare as hen's teeth these days plus the rest of the week doesn't look too promising.

Arriving after 9 I found a few people already at the viewing point, including a few familiar faces. The water levels around the Reserve were predictably high but it didn't seem to bother the birds. Out on Great Hardmead Lake were the usual birds. A Great Crested Grebe in breeding plumage swam regally by; there were over half-a-dozen Grey Herons, mostly grouped together; a lone Wigeon; sleepy Shoveler and Teal in torpor; 3 Buzzards in the skies above; a Kestrel hovering nearby; about 60+ Lapwing on the island, their green iridescent plumage reflecting the sunshine and a lone, sleepy Snipe could be seen in the nearby reed-beds. I could also hear a Cetti's Warbler and a Song Thrush.

Amongst all the Black-headed Gulls were a couple of Common Gulls. Some of the BHGs were coming into breeding plumage, their dark hoods becoming more and more prominent. I also noticed that a few Cormorants were now displaying white heads and necks. Spring is almost here!

More people were turning up so I decided to head down to the Gladwin Hide. There wasn't too much going on here but a male and 2 female Goldeneyes were right in front of the Hide, their plumage looking amazing in the sun.

From here I headed over to the James Hide, via the viewing point, where I initially went upstairs for about 10 minutes before deciding to sit downstairs to try and get some more close-ups of the birds near the feeders. I could now see 4 Buzzards in the skies above the tree-line; the resident pairs of Coot; Moorhen and Mallards were swimming around and then a female Muntjac wandered idly across the reed-bed channel. After watching the Tits; Robins; Dunnocks and Reed Buntings gorge themselves on the feeders I decided to have a look out over the Bittern Pool.

Unfortunately today the Bittern decided not to show itself but I did get wonderful views of a Kingfisher flying around the lake, showing off his turquoise and orange plumage. There were also a few more people here as well. In fact, as it was a Sunday, the area was awash with visitors, some Birders but the above average hordes of dog-walkers; joggers and cyclists. Indeed all the Hides were quite packed as well as the trails. And, unfortunately, on my second visit to the James Hide a couple of very noisy toddlers were scaring all the birds away. That's Sundays for you.

On the walk down to the Dragonfly Trail I spotted a Little Grebe on one of the lagoons. And at the feeders there was the usual feeding frenzy with Finches; Tits, including one Coal Tit and a female Great Spotted Woodpecker, all darting back and forth vying for the best spots. A pair of Collared Doves; Magpies and Pheasants were busy hoovering up all the spillage.

On the walk back I could hear the familiar yaffle of a Green Woodpecker in the distance. I made a quick stop at the Bittern Pool, again seeing the Kingfisher and then walked around to the White Hide where I stopped for lunch. It soon got busy in here with most of the seats being taken up. The only thing of note here was a lone Little Egret in amongst several Grey Herons, who were busily flying back and forth, some with nesting material. I met another familiar face in here and we had a bit of a catch-up.

So it was then back to the James Hide, downstairs, where all the noise forced me upstairs. A good thing too as the Kingfisher then made another appearance, fishing from the reeds. It gave us quite a good show for about 10 minutes before deciding to fly off.

Unable to bear the noise any further I decided to head back to the viewing point. There were quite a few people here as well so, as time was getting on, I decided to call it a day and head home.

A lovely day out in the, rare, sunshine but probably too many people for my liking. If the weather allows it, I'll stick to weekdays.