Saturday, 26 April 2014

Amwell Nature Reserve - 16th April 14

Weather: Warm and sunny all day, cold wind.

Birds Total: 50
Plus: Grey Squirrel; Rabbit.
Plus: Brimstone, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Speckled Wood Butterflies.
Plus: Bee-fly; Trout; White-tailed Bumble Bee.

Today was my third day out in a row, thanks to the wonderfully sunny weather. Unfortunately it turns overcast for the rest of the week. But it was another brilliant day.

On the walk down the trail to the Reserve I was met by a singing festival. Wren; Dunnock; Robin; Blackbird; Cetti's and Chiffchaff all announcing their presence. Male Blackcaps could also be heard as well as seen, up close. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera to hand.

I reached the main viewpoint to find a few people already present, a couple of which I recognised. Out on Great Hardmead Lake there were 3 Little Ringed Plovers; several Lapwings; 3 Redshank; a pair of Snipe; 5 Shoveler and a lone Wigeon. Although it was very sunny with little cloud there was a very cold wind blowing in off the lake so I didn't hang around there as much as I would have liked.

I headed down to the Gladwin Hide. On the way I spotted a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly fighting against the wind. The Bluebells were still growing just outside the Hide. Looking out from the Hide itself I could see 5 Great Crested Grebes out to the left. 6 Greylag Geese were swimming around, in amongst Canadas; Coots; Tufties and Pochard. A Peacock butterfly flew past, also fighting the strong wind. The clear skies and strong winds were obviously beneficial to the Buzzards as I could see 5 of them over the horizon. A Grey Heron flew lazily past from right to left, towards the Cormorant Roost.

On the walk back I could hear Reed and Sedge Warbler singing. An Orange Tip butterfly danced its way past me. When I reached the mini viewing point to look out 2 LRPs took off when they spotted me. There was also a Little Egret nearby who didn't spot me. It got progressively closer and eventually I managed to get a few shots of it, before it too spotted me and flew off.

Just before I reached the James Hide I could see a Jay foraging on the track. I tried to creep closer but it inevitably saw me and flew off. Chiffchaffs were sounding off all around me. A lone Long-tailed Tit flew past, calling out for its buddies.

I sat down in the upper tier of the Hide and found that Phil the Pheasant was again present, again hoovering up the spilt seeds. This time he had brought one of his girlfriends with him. The feeders were quite full but only a male Reed Bunting was taking advantage of them. Then I spotted a Grey Heron to the right of the Hide, quite close. But before I could bring my camera to bear it took off and landed on the tree stump at the back of the lagoon. A Cetti's Warbler sounded off to the left of the Hide, while a Canada Goose was still sitting on its nest. A Moorhen could be seen in the stream to the right and it had a couple of youngsters with it.

Then I could hear another Cetti's Warbler out to the right, behind the feeders. Surprisingly this time it not only appeared but flew up onto a nearby branch and posed for me! At first it was in shadow and flew off. It soon returned and this time posed in the sun. Fantastic!

I then walked down to the White Hide. On the trail down I was attacked by thousands of midges. There were swarms of them.

Looking out from the Hide I could now see at least 5 Redshank around the area. A Snipe then flew in and landed quite close for a few minutes before being scared off by a couple of Coot. A Lapwing was also quite close and was dodging in and out of the clumps of grass. A Great Crested Grebe was out to the right while the 3 LRPs had now transferred over to the island in front. Then an Oystercatcher peeped its arrival and landed about 30 meters from the Hide. This was soon followed by a lone Green Sandpiper. They were great to see but unfortunately they didn't get any closer.

On the return I found 3 Dock Bugs, with 2 of them making little Dock Bugs. Another Jay flew over. I then headed down to the Dragonfly Trail entrance by way of the twin lagoons. A Brimstone butterfly rushed by. While I watching looking for the singing Blackcaps here a Speckled Wood butterfly flew in. It was too quick for a photo, though. I spotted more Bluebells in the woods on the walk up.

Then a volunteer I knew from Rye Meads turned up. He was heading for the James Hide, so I said I would meet him there later.

At the Trail entrance I looked up at the tree which held the feeders to see if the Green Woodpecker was around. I had heard it just before I arrived and, sure enough, there it was, on the same branch as last week. The only other things present were a hen Pheasant and a couple of rabbits.

On the walk back, just before the bridge, I managed to see a couple of Bee-flys; a female Orange Tip; a Green-veined White and a Speckled Wood all delightfully posing for me. At the bridge I met a couple of guys looking at some fish, which we learned were Trout. A fish expert I am not. Further on a Goldfinch flew past. Then another male Blackcap posed for one photo before flying off.

Just before I got back to the James Hide a Small White butterfly flew past, bringing the count upto 7. I sat down in the lower tier of the Hide and a little later I was joined by my friend. We watched a pair of Gadwall feeding in the sunshine. Another Grey Heron landed in front but was soon chased off by a Canada Goose. A pair of Buzzards could be seen flying quite close, but high up. Birds came and went on the feeders. Phil the Pheasant soon returned with his girlfriend in tow, screeching out every few minutes.


I decided to walk back to the main viewing point. Additions here were a lone Pied Wagtail; 4 Teal and the first Common Tern of the season.

Time to call it a day. On the walk back to the Station an Oystercatcher flew past, singing out his farewell to me. Another brilliant day out!

To see more of my photos please visit my Flickr site.