Monday, 16 June 2014

Amwell Nature Reserve - 6th June 14

Weather: Sunny, blue skies, slight cloud. Very warm with a slight breeze.

Birds Total: 45
Plus: Muntjac.
Plus: Common Blue, Orange Tip, Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Speckled Wood Butterflies.
Plus: 2-spot, 7-spot, 16-spot, Harlequin Ladybird; Grasshopper; Longhorn Beetle; Rainbow Trout; Red-tailed Bumble Bee; Ruby-tailed Wasp; Solder Beetle; White-tailed Bumble Bee.
Plus: Azure, Banded Demoiselle, Blue-tailed, Common Blue, Large Red, Red-eyed Damselflies; Black-tailed, Broad-bodied, Emperor, Hairy Dragonfly.
Plus: Early Marsh, Southern Marsh Orchids.

Finally, after a long period of poor weather, it was warm and sunny out.

Not as many bird species today as there were last time out here but it was a very enjoyable day out nonetheless. We are getting to that period when birds quieten down, all busily feeding chicks or sitting on eggs. The cacophony of birdsong from earlier in the season gives way to a more sombre-like period and so I started to search for other wildlife.

On the walk up the trail to the Reserve there were lots of Ladybirds on show, mating 2-spots, even a pair of differing ladybirds pairing up. It was already quite warm and so loads of damselflies were drifting up as I walked past, mainly Common Blues from what I could see. A few Soldier Beetles were crawling around on the nettles.

I even spotted my first Cuckoo Spit today, Froghoppers obviously having been busy. Butterflies were a little conspicuous by their absence today, maybe because of a strongish breeze but what appeared was quality if not quantity. The first ones I saw today were Orange Tip and Small Tortoiseshell, both fighting against the breeze.

I reached the main viewing point to find only a couple of people present. Actually, there weren't too many people around today, a bit surprising considering the weather and that it was POET's day. There were the usual joggers of course, sweating along in the hot sun; dog-walkers and cyclists and the odd mum and pushchair.


Looking out over the lake I could see around 4 Shovelers; the now resident lone male Wigeon; 8 Little Egrets; 5 Grey Herons; a pair of Great Crested Grebes, escorting one Humbug; 4 Common Terns; a lone Little Ringed Plover and around half-a-dozen Lapwing. Around the viewing point a couple of Whitethroats were singing away, one of which was hovering directly above me. Reed and Sedge Warblers were flitting around the reeds and a few male Reed Buntings were still singing out, still protecting their territory, or maybe even trying to attract an unattached female. And, high in the sky, I could see at least 2 Hobbys and a Sparrowhawk, while half-a-dozen Swifts were bisecting the skies, screaming away as they went.

The vegetation seemed to be taking full advantage from the recent combination of rain and sun and was now almost blocking out the scrapes in front of the viewing point.


After a while I moved on towards the James Hide, my first stop. On the way a pair of Goldfinches flew past me, landed on a nearby tree, peered down at me and then flew off. Hey, I've only just had my monthly bath!

I made myself comfortable in the upper tier of the James Hide and peered out. Almost immediately, a Magpie landed on the roof of the lower tier and poked its' beak through the window, right in front of me. We both saw each other at the same time, scaring us both. The Magpie flew off, while I just jumped in my seat.

I noticed the feeders out to my right were mainly empty so there wouldn't be too much action there. Elsewhere I could hear Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings and the odd Cetti's Warbler. Common Terns were flying past from left to right every few minutes, food in their beaks. Out on the pond a Mallard had 4 little chicks who were all trying to avoid the angry resident Coot.

There not being too much action here I decided to move on towards the Dragonfly Trail. On the way I stopped off at the twin lagoons where I found quite a few Red-eyed Damsels in amongst the Common Blues. A Dragonfly, looking suspiciously like an Emperor was flying around in circles at the back of the lagoon. I tried to walk a bit closer to ID it and maybe even photograph it but I couldn't get anywhere near it. But I did spot a little Grasshopper and then I spotted a Small Skipper, perched precariously on a flower.


Then I suddenly realised that I had left my bag in the James Hide! I rushed back and thankfully, it was still there. I guess my ham sandwiches weren't to anyone else's taste.

I reached the Bridge and this time spotted 3 Rainbow Trout and then a lone male Banded Demoiselle flew under the bridge and promptly disappeared. Further on a Speckled Wood flew past.

As I entered the Trail a Green Woodpecker called out somewhere in the distance. At the ponds I was immediately greeted by a pair of Broad-bodied Chasers arguing over their patch of turf. One of them landed very close to the walkway and posed brilliantly for me. A few Large Red and Blue-tailed Damselflies were also present and flying up every few moments.

I spent a while here and saw plenty of various Blue damsels; more Chasers and then a few Hairys and a majestic Emperor, before moving on to the river.

Before I reached the river I paid a quick look at the Orchid garden to find plenty of Early and Southern Marsh blooming.

At the river there were at least 3 pairs of Canada Geese, all with chicks. There was also plenty of Canada Geese poo, which I was trying to avoid. There wasn't too much about here but I did spot a lone female Banded Demoiselle, high in a tree, her wings reflecting against the rays of the sun and then, right behind her, a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew onto a tree and proceeded to hop up towards the top.

I decided to break for lunch and sat down on a bench overlooking Hollycross Lake. It was a really lovely day out. There wasn't much out on the lake. I could see more Chasers flying up and down the nearby stream and then I spotted a juvenile male Black-tailed Skimmer. It flew down and landed on the chalky mud.

On the walk back a Common Blue butterfly added to the list. Back at the Bridge the Banded Demo gave better views, basking in the sunshine. Then a Ruby-tailed Wasp landed right next to me, but flew off when I tried to get a photo of it. Another quick visit to the twin lagoons yielded much the same fare and then I spotted a little Muntjac cross the path up ahead, darting into the brush.

I then found myself in the White Hide, which was empty. Looking out I could see 4 or 5 Little Egrets, all together, looking like they were newly-fledged and creching. There were also 8 Grey Herons nearby, all of them juveniles too, looking much paler than their parents. Both sets looked quite a strange sight, all standing and posing beside each other.


On the island in front there were at least 4 Pochard, in amongst all the Gulls and then I could see a Little Ringed Plover trying to pick it's way through all of them. A pair of Coot then made their 4 little chicks swim from one island to another. It was quite amusing to see them all bobbing about in the water. I hope the Grey Herons don't see them.

There wasn't much else to report after that. I made my way back to the main viewing point, via the James Hide, this time sitting in the lower tier and then headed home.

It was another lovely day out.