Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Amwell Nature Reserve - 7th July 14

Weather: Sunny with slight cloud early on, clouding over fully later. Light rain shower in the afternoon.

Birds Total: 47
Plus: Green-veined White, Meadow Brown, Peacock, Red Admiral, Ringlet, Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies. Cinnabar Moth caterpillars.
Plus: 2-spot, 7-spot, 18-spot & Harlequin Ladybirds; Bank Vole; Common Green Grasshopper; Froglet; Hoverfly; Pond Skaters; Red-tailed Bumble Bee; Solder Beetle; White-tailed Bumble Bee.
Plus: Blue-tailed, Common Blue, Red-eyed Damselflies; Black-tailed Skimmer, Broad-bodied Chaser, Brown Hawker, Common Darter, Emperor Dragonflies.

It's possibly the last reasonably good weather day for a few days. The predicted early morning sun was replaced by heavy cloud later in the afternoon, with a short, sharp shower. The next few days are forecast for heavy cloud and rain showers.

Amwell was next up for a visit and on the train down I spotted the usual Grey Heron but this time I was surprised to see a Marsh Harrier glide past and land on a nearby tree! It must have been one of the few times that I wished the train would delay my journey.

When I started up the trail to the Reserve I noted that only about 30 or so Canada Geese were present to welcome me this time. When I reached the Lock a Grey Wagtail was flitting around, calling. Then 4 Long-tailed Tits flew by, calling as they went. Looking down at the trail around me, as I walked, I could see lots of blue damsels about and then I spotted an 18-spot Ladybird. When I reached the bridge I spotted a 7-spot Ladybird and then a few Cinnabar Moth caterpillars on their favourite flower, the ragwort.

There was only one guy at the main viewing point when I arrived. In fact there weren't too many Birders about at all today. But I did note that lots of cyclists were about. Damn the Tour de France! Lots of dog-walkers and joggers were also in evidence.

Looking out I spotted a lone Little Egret; a couple of dozen Lapwing; the resident Wigeon; 3 Little Ringed Plovers and about 3 or 4 Common Tern. Several Reed Warblers were flying back and forth around the reeds; a lone Whitethroat was in the bushes to my right, appearing every now and then and there were several Starlings around the island. Butterflies around were mainly Small Tortoiseshell; Green-veined Whites; Ringlets and the first of the second batch of Peacocks.

Hoverfly Volucella pellucens
I moved around to the James Hide and had a good chat with a couple of other Birders. Whilst in there I spotted a few Reed and Sedge Warblers flying in and out of the reeds; a few Reed Buntings on the feeders; a pair of Jays flying right to left in front of the Hide; a Little Egret flying lazily past, as they do and a Buzzard, Hobby and Kestrel high in the distant sky. Not together, that is!

I then arrived at the twin lagoons and found the usual Red-eyed Damsels amongst all the blues. There were no dragons present. Then I heard, then saw, 4 Oystercatchers fly overhead. A Great Spotted Woodpecker sounded off somewhere in the surrounding trees. Two Jays flew overhead to the nearby trees, probably the same pair as earlier.

I moved on and entered the Dragonfly Trail. Here I found a few other people walking around plus a few Black-tailed Skimmers, a lone Emperor and a couple of Common Darters. A female Brown Hawker was seen flying about a little later, busily ovipositing. A Green Woodpecker sounded off and proceeded to do so for the next 20 minutes or thereabouts, but remained stubbornly hidden. Then I witnessed a macabre scene - a dead damsel was being feasted on by a few Pond Skaters.

A little later on, further around the area, I found a little Froglet hopping about. A Moorhen was nesting in one of the little ponds, sitting on at least 6 eggs, totally unconcerned by people walking past only a few yards away. Then a Broad-bodied Chaser turned up and had a border disagreement with one of the Skimmers. It only lasted a few seconds before both flew off to their respective perches. A few more Meadow Browns and Ringlets were about, busy as usual, plus a lone Small Skipper.

Looking out over the lake I could see Grey Heron; Little Egret; Common Tern and a family of Great Crested Grebes all very busy doing their thing.

While I was having lunch a female Black-tailed Skimmer landed in front of me but promptly flew off before I could point my camera on her. Then I spotted a Common Green Grasshopper hopping around. But it had started to cloud over by now and so I decided to head for the White Hide.

On the way I heard a Kingfisher flash by me, much too quickly for my eyes to get a bead on it. From the White Hide, other than the usual, I could see 5 Little Egrets and the family of Oystercatchers, who were dozing away.

I moved back to the James Hide and sat in the lower tier, where I saw a little Bank Vole being chased by a juvenile Moorhen. Whenever the Moorhen moved off the Vole darted out and snaffled up the bird seed spillage. While I was trying to get a photo of it a Grey Heron flew in, towards the back of the pond. After things quietened down the Vole ventured out again and I managed to get one or two snaps.

It started to rain a little bit while I was there and so, after it stopped, I headed back to the main viewing area for a quick scan before heading for home.

As always, if you see any mistakes or glaring errors, please let me know. For more of my photos please visit my Flickr site.