Sunday, 19 October 2014

Amwell Nature Reserve - 16th October 14

Weather: Cloudy, some sunny intervals. Rain later.

Birds Total: 49
Plus: Large White, Red Admiral Butterflies.
Plus: Common Darter, Migrant Hawker Dragonflies.

The weather forecasts for today were mixed but it was the best day of the week so far and so I decided to head for Amwell. If it rained I would be able to shelter and wait it out in the Hides. And so it proved.

On the train down I noticed that flooding had already occurred in the adjacent fields, some areas more than others. Harry the Heron was trying to avoid most of the worst by staying high on the branches. A Little Egret nearby was a bit braver and was fishing around for its breakfast. In the same area about a dozen Lapwing were roosting.

I was welcomed with a cacophony of song by Dunnock; Robin and Wren on the walk upto the Reserve. When I reached the Watchpoint I found no one about, which was a little unusual. Scanning the area I could see 3 Grey Heron; 5 Great Crested Grebe; about 20 Lapwing; around the same number of Wigeon; a lot of Shoveler and a few Teal and at least one Snipe.

I was there around 30 minutes or so when a familiar face turned up. We then witnessed about 60-70 Jackdaw fly up over the horizon and straight over our heads, most of them uttering their characteristic 'chack' calls. We both continued to scan around and found a pair of Little Grebe and around 20 Mute Swans.

We then decided to walk down to the Gladwin Hide. I haven't visited this Hide for quite a while but today I was keen to have a look as some Stonechats have been seen around the area. Looking out, seeing a bit of work had been down just outside the Hide, we saw a pair of hen Pheasants scurrying away into the undergrowth when they saw us.

We were chatting away while looking out when my friend spotted a little bird out to the right, atop a reed. It turned out to be a Stonechat. It gave quite good views before flying to the left and was soon joined by another female. Both then posed, before one of them flew in quite close giving a really good view. A few people entered the Hide and then I spotted a Greater Crested Jenny out front, sporting some beautiful plumage. A female of the species accompanied by an older male. But the Stonechats had already moved off further to the left.

Heading back we spotted a Hobby flying around the dead tree opposite, on the other side of the lake. We quickly scanned the area from the Watchpoint again before heading down to the James Hide.

In the Hide we found another familiar face sat there, warning us of the 'waccie baccie' smells. Apparently a few kids had been in earlier having a crafty smoke. Our man had been in situ for a couple of hours awaiting the arrival of a Kingfisher, but had seen nothing. We had just sat down when one turned up.

Over the course of the next hour or so we saw 3 Little Egrets fly past; 6 Buzzards high over the tree horizon; a Kestrel hovering out to the left, before flying in closer; a Meadow Pipit flypast; a Jay and then Phil the Pheasant made his long-awaited return.

The Kingfisher then flew in again and gave a fleeting display on the stick in front of the Hide, before flying off again.

I decided to then head down to Tumbling Bay. But all that was on show were a family of four Crested Great Grebe; a lone Little Grebe and lots of Tufted Duck. There weren't very many butterflies about today and only a few dragons, the usual Common Darters and Migrant Hawkers.

I then headed down to the Dragonfly Trail, which had been closed for the winter, seeing a Green Woodpecker and a few Goldfinch. The grass was being cropped by lots of Rabbits and Sheep.

I walked back to the James Hide, noting that lots of work had been done around the trails, with the cuttings strewn all around. Jenny had been busy! I also noticed lots more passerines around the trails as well today.

No one was in the James when I arrived and so I sat down and looked out. Then soon after, my friend Ron turned up and just after that the guy that was in earlier came back in. Just in time to miss the Kingfisher fly past.

Grey Herons flew past every few minutes; more Buzzards were in the sky and then a pair of Mallards swam past. It then started to pour down with rain, so I decided to delay my walk home.

When it finally stopped we all headed off on our separate ways. I headed back to the Watchpoint, finding more familiar faces. I hung around for about 30 minutes seeing 3 Redwing and a Pied Wagtail fly over; a Grey Wagtail land on the bridge behind us and then a Water Rail out to the left.

It had clouded over badly by now and I feared more rain so I headed home. A very good day out.