Friday, 7 March 2014

Amwell Nature Reserve - 26th February 14

Weather: Sunny, blue skies with slight cloud.

Birds Total: 50
Plus: Rabbit; Weasel.

I'm acutely aware that visiting the same Reserves on a regular basis may make most, if not all, my reports seem a little repetitive. But I'm trying to convey a sense of subtle change for each visit, throughout the seasons. For example, the first sighting of the year of a bird or mammal or insect. Or the last sighting. Comparisons from previous years may, or may not, indicate patterns or changes. Well, I find it interesting anyway. I hope you do too.

Today turned out to be the best visit of the year so far. It was another dry, sunny day with a slightly cool breeze.

So, nothing to report on the journey down and from the main viewing point, other than the usual birds, were around 20 Lapwing; 3 Greylag Geese; 10 Grey Herons; 3 Little Egrets; the sound of a Cetti's Warbler; 3 Buzzards; a Red Kite and a pair of Oystercatchers. The usual crowd were also present.

From here I wandered down to the Gladwin Hide. At first only a male Pochard was visible amongst all the Coot and BHGs. But after about 10 minutes I could hear the squeal of a Water Rail nearby; then 3 Goldeneyes flew in and landed in front of the Hide, a drake and 2 females; 7 more Greylags flew noisily in and splash-landed and then I spotted a Redhead Smew over by the far bank. A Reed Bunting sounded off and could be seen to the right of the Hide on one of the bull-rushes.

I was already enjoying the days' sightings. Over at the James Hide all the usual birds were busy on the feeders, lots of Reed Buntings; Greats and Blueys and a few LTTs; Robins; Dunnocks and Chaffies were all flying in and out. A Grey Heron landed in the channel between the reed beds and proceeded to fish. It eyed me warily and kept its' distance. Cetti's and Green Woodpecker could be heard. Another pair of Buzzard were screeching high in the sky.

Then I headed off down to the feeders by the entrance to the Dragonfly Trail. Whoever thought this up should be very pleased with themselves as it has never failed to delight. By the bridge I spotted a Chiffchaff, the first of the year. The feeders were not as busy as they have been, mainly because there were all nearly empty. But they were visited by Tits and Finches plus a pair of Jays; a female GSW; a Coal Tit and a Redpoll. I can't wait until the trail is opened for the summer.

On the return route a pair of GSWs could be seen chasing each other in between the trees. Then I was completely amazed at seeing a little Weasel trot past me, only about 6 to 8 feet away, across the tarmac. It was completely oblivious to me. A movement to my right distracted me, seeing a rabbit and when I looked back I lost sight of the Weasel. It was too quick for a photo but I was also a bit stunned to get my first sighting of one.

Over to the White Hide, via the Bittern Pool which yielded not a lot, where I had lunch. In between mouthfuls of ham sandwich I spotted a Bittern on the far side of the lake. It had caught a monster of a fish, which looked a Pike and it took several minutes to gobble it down. It then walked slowly in to the reeds where it settled down. It obviously didn't need to eat again today.

I paid another visit to the James Hide, downstairs this time to take a few more photos of the feeder birds. A male Pheasant was hoovering up the remnants.

The only thing of note back at the main viewing point were dozens of LBBGs turning up. The Oystercatchers had disappeared, more Lapwing had turned up but unfortunately the sun was going down. A really good day out. I hope it continues.