Thursday, 3 April 2014

Amwell Nature Reserve - 1st April 14

Weather: Warm and sunny all day, slight cloud.

Birds Total: 49
Plus: Muntjac.
Plus: Brimstone, Comma, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White Butterflies.

It was forecast to be a lovely day, which it was. Hot enough to walk around in shirt-sleeves.

Unfortunately, it was April Fool's Day today and I was caught out by the trains. My train was marked as late but came in on time whilst I was sitting upstairs. There were no announcements. I therefore had to wait 30 minutes for the next one. More Fool me!

But the day vastly improved when I got to the Reserve. On the trail down I was greeted by House Sparrows and Greenfinches, while a pair of Grey Herons flew by overhead. A Starling was singing away on a chimney-pot by the Lock.

When I arrived at the main viewing point I found quite a few people present. I sensed a twitch! I looked over at the sightings board to see that a Spotted Redshank had been seen this morning. One of the guys next to me then pointed it out just in front of the viewing point, wading back and forth, giving some great views. As it did all day. It was already a good decision to come down to Amwell!

A quick scan around the Lake afforded me views of Lapwing; Common Redshank; Grey Heron; Wigeon; Snipe and Great Crested Grebe. All the usual traffic could also be seen, either swimming about or snoozing in the sun, including Teal and Shoveler. The Cormorant Roost on the large island opposite was numerous as well as noisy.

Butterflies were quite plentiful today with at least 5 species seen. Small White, Small Tortoiseshell and Comma all flew past early on, while I could also see a pair of Muntjac to the right of the White Hide feeding. One of many Bees then flew past me, I recognised this particular one as a Buff-tailed.

Then I witnessed migration in action when a couple of dozen Canada Geese flew in and landed, all honking away. One of the guys with a scope then spotted a pair of Oystercatchers in the distance, way out to the right. A leuchistic Herring Gull was on the small island in front. This had been previously reported as an Ivory Gull. A Buzzard could also be seen, perched up on a tree, on the skyline. Cetti's Warblers seemed to be singing everywhere.

I spent a while here, mainly taking in the views of the Spotted Redshank. Well, you don't often see them around here. I eventually moved on to the Gladwin Hide. On the way down more butterflies were in evidence, including a Peacock.

Looking out from the Hide it again took a while to spot anything, other than the Coots and Gulls; Tufties and Geese. But eventually 5 Goldeneye; 6 Wigeon; 3 Great Crested Grebes and some Greylags could be seen. A Green Woodpecker could be heard yaffling somewhere. In fact it sounded off pretty much all day, but I didn't get to see it. There was a flypast from another Grey Heron and then a Little Egret. I couldn't see the Oystercatchers from the Hide but when I looked over from the trail I could just make them out on the edge of the island. A little further on a pair of Cetti's Warblers were chasing around the bushes, seemingly oblivious to me. As I watched a male Reed Bunting also flew in and watched the action.  THe Reedie and I agreed to give them an 8 out of 10 for effort. A Song Thrush could be heard singing in the nearby woods.

I arrived at the James Hide hoping to see the Kingfishers again but they didn't appear. There wasn't much about, even the feeders were empty, although the feeders themselves were full. A couple of Peacock butterflies fluttered by. A Pheasant was just outside the Hide feeding on the scraps that had fallen from the feeders. He was screeching every few minutes scaring everything off that had started to fly in. A Cetti's Warbler was calling from the left but remained unseen. A Brimstone butterfly increased the count to 5. A couple of Buzzards were soaring high in the sky over the horizon, screeching out their characteristic calls.

Oi! Over here!!

I decided to then walk down to the feeders by the Dragonfly Trail. On the way a couple of Goldfinches flew over, uttering their distinctive popping call. A lovely Chiffchaff could be seen high in the tree, chiff-chaffing away. Unfortunately, when I arrived I found that the feeders had been removed and there was nothing about apart from Pheasants and Crows. A Great Crested Grebe could be seen swimming on the nearby lake.

So, with a bit of time on my hands, I decided to head down to Tumbling Bay Lake. On the way I spotted a Song Thrush foraging about in the grass. It eventually gobbled up a juicy worm. Well, I guess it was juicy to him. I'll stick to my cheese sandwiches.

Mmm, looks juicy!

From the spit I could see more GCGs but other than them there were only Coots and Tufties around, with a few Pochard. More Peacock butterflies were about plus another Brimstone. Long-tailed Tits then arrived calling out their familiar three-toned 'keep in touch' song.

On the walk back I could here more Chiffchaffs and then a Kestrel flew over and landed in a tree across the river. It stubbornly refused to fly any closer. When I reached the Bittern Pool a couple of people were there including Jenny Sherwen, the local Reserve Officer. I was going to mention all the doggie bags I had seen, but didn't get a chance to.

Doggie Bag, anyone?
I arrived at the White Hide to find a pair of Common Redshank quite close to the Hide. Unfortunately, the sun was shining right into my face, silhouetting the birds. Looking across the lake towards the James Hide, in the channel, I could see a Little Egret foraging. There was another Little Egret out to the left of the Hide. I heard, then spotted, the Oystercatchers fly in and land on the scrape in front of the viewing point, peeping away. I could also see another Common Redshank and then the Spotted Redshank in the same area.
Then 3 dozen Canada Geese flew in and landed at the far end of the lake, making enough noise so that I could hear them even from where I was sitting. There must have been close to a hundred of them out there now.

I walked back to the James Hide but the only other addition was the sound of a Water Rail. Then I ended up at the viewing point again. The Spotted Redshank was still giving some great views.

It was time to call it a day. Just before I left a lone Sand Martin flew over. And on the trail home another pair of Muntjac appeared on the other side of the river.

Another wonderful day out.

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