Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Amwell Nature Reserve - 22nd September 14

Weather: Overcast and cool early on, warming up to clear skies later.

Birds Total: 40
Plus: Large White, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood Butterflies.
Plus: 7-spot Ladybird; Hornets; Hoverflies; Konik Ponies; Rudd; Sheep; Spiders.
Plus: Common Blue, Emerald Damselflies; Brown Hawker, Common Darter, Migrant Hawker, Ruddy Darter, Southern Hawker Dragonflies.

Today started off relatively quiet but it did get better as the day went on. It was forecast to be sunny early on, clouding over after lunchtime. In the event it remained quite sunny all day and the temperature rose to a peak around 3pm-ish.

Walking up the trail to the Reserve
I met a friend on the train and so didn't see much, if anything, on the way down. I did keep an eye out for my friendly Grey Heron though, but, if it was around, I didn't spot it. In fact, I only spotted one Heron all day. The walk up to the Reserve proved to be very quiet, no welcoming Geese this time. The Konik ponies were still in situ, helping the HMWT to keep the grass short.

View over Great Hardmead Lake from the Watchpoint
There was only one guy at the Watchpoint when I arrived. Looking out I could see 5 Common Snipe; 20+ Wigeon; a sprinkling of Shoveler and Teal; a lone Little Egret and about 4 Great Crested Grebes. I could hear both Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers sounding off somewhere in the distant trees. There must have been 50+ Greylags out there, mixed in with about 40+ Canada Geese. About 30-odd Black-headed Gulls were confined to one of the rafts out on the Lake. Lastly, 2 or 3 Sand Martins flew over.

The sky wasn't quite all blue today as a thin layer of stratocumulus was attempting to blot out the sun. But the sun seemed to win and poked its' face through, warming me up nicely. Although I still kept my fleece on. The walk down to the James Hide was accompanied by the singing of Chiffchaff and Cetti's Warbler.

View from the James Hide

It's not small, just space-efficient!
It was even quieter looking out from the James Hide. There was only one Coot; one dragon and one butterfly out there. The feeders were empty again. A little later a pair of Robins sized each other up before deciding that discretion was the better part of valour. I was reduced to photographing a Bluebottle which had landed near me. I moved on.

There were only a pair of Migrant Hawkers hawking around the twin lagoons. I eventually saw plenty of these guys as well as Common Darters, but there was a noticeable absence of butterflies today. Only a few Large Whites; a single Speckled Wood and a single Red Admiral were seen.

I met a familiar face on the Dragonfly Trail and together we searched the area for any sightings of the Willow Emerald. But we weren't as lucky today as we were on the previous visit. Despite looking for nearly 2 hours all we had to show for our efforts was one female Emerald damsel, who was busy ovipositing. She looked a bit bedraggled and worn out, her days were looking very numbered.

But we did see plenty of Migrants Hawkers and Common Darters, with a couple of Ruddy Darters; a single Brown Hawker and a single Southern Hawker thrown in for good measure. There were plenty of Common Blue damsels about, at least one pair in tandem. Plenty of Common Darters were paired up too, with at least one pair of Migrants attached to each other. Well, the sun was out and it would probably have been rude not to.

I did a quick circuit to the river and back, not seeing very much, whilst managing to avoid all the sheep droppings. I could hear a Buzzard in the sky above me and it eventually dropped low enough to tempt me to try a few shots. I then spent another hour or so searching for the elusive Willows. A Jay squawked and flew by overhead.
I then stalked the Southern Hawker but it didn't play ball and continued to fly around its patch continuously. But the Migrants and the Darters were much more cooperative. Just before I broke for lunch we spotted the female Emerald damsel, doing her egg-laying thing. There were one or two Hornets flying around the area.

Eventually I headed off, towards the James and White Hides. No change from the James but the additions to the list from the White included a good view of a Kingfisher; the only Grey Heron and a Green Sandpiper that flew in. Oh, and about 70-odd Lapwing had appeared as well.

I finished up back at the Watchpoint where the Red Admiral appeared, feeding on the Buddleia and then a pair of Meadow Pipits flew by overhead. The Little Egret count had risen to 3. I heard that a Golden Plover and a Stonechat had been seen today but I missed them.

A quiet-ish day but it was still great to be out in the autumn sunshine.