Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Amwell Nature Reserve - 22nd October 14

Weather: Cold but sunny early on, clouding over badly later.

Birds Total: 46
Plus: Common Darter, Migrant Hawker Dragonflies.

It was a short visit today, primarily because the morning was forecast for sunshine while the afternoon was supposed to cloud over. Well, they got it right for once and so I made a short, 4-hour visit.

Unfortunately, the trains started where they had left off, as the train down was cancelled due to points failure. But, on the plus side, it allowed me to nip back home and don another layer as it was quite cold at first. Then, to my great surprise, the connection was late as well, allowing me just enough time to catch it. A rare event.

There were plenty of birds around today, with an above-average total of species. But unfortunately none of them ventured close for a photo, so all I managed to take were a few shots from the Gladwin Hide. You win some, you lose some.

View from the Gladwin Hide
So I arrived at the Reserve around the usual time. I didn't see anything on the way down but was greeted by over 20 Mallards, some of which followed me for a short while, thinking that I was going to feed them. Sorry, I only had white bread. A few Jackdaws chacked by overhead.

When I arrived at the Watchpoint I found quite a few people already there, some familiar faces among them. I guess they were here hoping to see the Yellow-browed Warblers that had been reported earlier this week. Unfortunately I think the 'Big Blow' yesterday took them away to pastures new.

Out on the lake I could see a pair of Little Egrets; a lone Grey Heron; around half-a-dozen Lapwing; a few Great Crested Grebes and some Shoveler, Teal and Wigeon. High in the sky, over the tree horizon I could see 3 Buzzards, while a lone Red Kite was being mobbed away in the distance to our left. Then, above us, a Sparrowhawk could be seen trying to gain height to escape a mobbing by more Crows.

Then I spotted a pair of Stonechats, one of which was a male, perched up high on the reeds in front of us. Not long after a pair of Grey Wagtails landed even closer, foraging by a little inlet. Then a Jay flew overhead, heading for the fields, quickly followed by a lone Redwing. There were plenty of Black-headed Gulls as usual, but a Common Gull was also present.

I headed down to the Gladwin Hide disturbing a few Common Darters in the process. There wasn't much to see outside the Hide, just 10 GCGs and a third Little Egret. A juvenile Herring Gull was disturbing the peace and quiet on the water.

Another view from the Gladwin Hide
From here I walked down to the James Hide, via a quick look out from the Watchpoint. But, despite sitting there for around 30 minutes, nothing much was seen. So I decided to walk down to the Dragonfly Trail entrance. On the way I could hear a few Chaffinches sounding off their alarm calls. The reason was a Kestrel, which cried out before flying off.

By the entrance to the Trail I could see that the feeders were almost empty. A pair of Collared Doves and a hen Pheasant were cleaning up the ground below them.

There was much evidence of the 'Big Blow' around today, lots of broken branches, big and small were strewn everywhere. I guess Autumn has finally arrived with a vengeance.

It was around now that the heavy clouds came over and so I decided to head back to the Watchpoint for 10 minutes before heading home. Thankfully there was no more problems with the trains. A short, but sweet day out.

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