Monday, 14 April 2014

Amwell Nature Reserve - 9th April 14

Weather: Warm and sunny all day, slight breeze.

Birds Total: 45
Plus: Grey Squirrel; Muntjac; Rabbit; Weasel.
Plus: Brimstone, Orange Tip, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Speckled Wood Butterflies.
Plus: 7-spot & 16-spot Ladybirds; Bee-fly; Alderfly; White-tailed Bumble Bee;
Plus: Bluebells.

Today was a gloriously sunny, warm day, with hardly a cloud in the sky. There was a slightly cool breeze early on but it wasn't too noticeable and certainly not as strong as yesterday at Rainham Marshes.

The day started out really well. Waiting for a train I spied a Buzzard high above me and then a Sparrowhawk flashed past, ducking and diving. On the journey down a Little Egret was seen close to the tracks.

On the trail to the Reserve the wheezy call of a Greenfinch could be heard and a couple of Goldfinches flew over. And, right beside the tracks to the left, a Muntjac could be seen. 7-spot Ladybirds were plentiful in number along the track and there was also one 16-spot Ladybird as well. A Speckled Wood butterfly flew past me and I could hear a Pheasant screeching out in the distance.

Some of the usual faces were at the main viewing point when I arrived. Out on the lake I could see 1 Great Crested Grebe; 3 Little Egrets; 4 Grey Herons; a pair of Little Ringed Plovers; several Lapwing; 4 Redshank and a pair of Snipe. Cetti's Warbler and Chiffchaff were singing all around us. A few Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies all flew by.

I then moved down to other viewpoint where both LRPs moved to within photo distance. It was here that I finally met a fellow Blogger, Seymouraves. The Reserve Manager, Jenny Sherwin, also turned up, releasing a few Sheep into the paddock.

I headed down to the Gladwin Hide. From here I could see a pair of Goldeneye; another GCG; Pochard and a few Greylag Geese. A Little Egret flew past from right to left. Just outside the Hide Bluebells were in full bloom. Another example of the good, early weather.

I looked over to the small island in front of the Hide and I could just make out at least one Oystercatcher. A little further on a male Reed Bunting was atop a tree and singing away. Then a Bee-fly made an appearance, landing in front of me.

After a quick stop at the viewing point I moved down the trail towards the James Hide. On the way I heard, then spotted, another Cetti's Warbler. Unfortunately it proved elusive in amongst the shrubs and branches and was eventually chased off by a Wren.

I settled in to the upper level of the Hide and could already see a few Tits and Finches on the feeders. Phil the Pheasant was already hoovering up the spillage and screeching out every few minutes. A Buzzard could be seen high over the horizon. Then a Grey Heron flew past from right to left. The first of many Orange Tip butterflies then appeared, fluttering by the Hide.

Then, looking out towards the left-hand reed channel, a pair of Reed Buntings were looking and sounding agitated. As I looked through my Bins I spotted yet another Weasel swim across the channel and disappear into the reed-bed. I was astounded - that made 3 sightings in nearly as many weeks.

Yet another Cetti's was seen to the left, while a pair of Canada Geese had created a nest in the reed-bed. They had better watch out for that Weasel! The male swam around the pond, scaring off a pair of Gadwall. A pair of Reed Buntings flew in and landed on the feeders. As did a pair of Long-tailed Tits. A few Caddis Flies also flew in. Another Brimstone fluttered past.

After lunch I moved around to the White Hide, spooking a Little Egret. Just before I reached the Hide a White-tailed Bumble Bee appeared. There was quite a bit of Bee activity around the Reserve today. Nice to see.

When I arrived at the Hide a family were already there. Unfortunately, they were quite noisy and had scared away all the birds from just outside the Hide. But, fortunately, they soon left. And the birds started to return. The first of which, a lovely Redshank, walked up quite close to the Hide, giving me some great views and photo opportunities. As did a lovely Lapwing. There was also some Pheasant action out to the left, a male trying to please two females. After that particular show it was no surprise to see a pair of rabbits out to the right!

I then found myself looking out over the Bittern Pool. Toward the back I could see a pair of Coots and then I spotted at least 4 little Cootlets! The first of the season's youngsters.

I was going to stop off and have a quick look at the twin lagoons but a woman was just leaving with her dog, which had been having a bath. At the entrance to the Dragonfly Trail I was just in time to see a Green Woodpecker fly in. I then heard the call of a Great Spotted Woodpecker. There were more butterflies flying around and then I spied a pair of Buzzards high in the sky.

Back along the trail I witnessed a Song Thrush bashing a snail against a rock before devouring it. A little ways on a Grey Squirrel made an appearance. At the twin lagoons I heard the call of another Buzzard and looked up to see two of them, quite low and flying over me. I was hoping they didn't think I was their next meal.

Further along the trail a pair of LTTs flew by, calling to each other. Another Chiffchaff was singing and I could just see it moving about the trees. I then walked into another cloud of midges, which seemed to have finally arrived at Amwell.

Back at the main viewing point an Oystercatcher could be seen in amongst all the Black-headed Gulls. Then a pair of Redshank looked as if they were about get it together, but the male took too long and the female flew off. The male Redshank then posed on a post for me, giving me more photo opportunities.

It was another really great day, made better by the lovely weather.

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