Saturday, 3 January 2015

Marsh Tits & Bank Voles at Amwell.

Amwell Nature Reserve - 13th December 14

Weather: Sunny blue skies, slight cloud. Very cold.

Bird Total: 50
Plus: Bank Vole; Konik Ponies.

It was another bright, sunny day again today. Crisp and clear but very cold again. But there was no cold breeze this time and it was, in fact, quite warm in the sunshine.


House Sparrows and Collared Doves were heard and seen on the trail down. The four Konik Ponies were again in the adjacent field.

Looking out from the Watchpoint I could see 40-50 Lapwing dotted around the island. They were being put up every few minutes but I couldn't see what was doing it. There were also 4 or 5 Great Crested Grebes; 2 or 3 Wigeon and a pair of Goldeneye out to the right. Plus all the usual suspects, of course.


But there was an unusually high count of dog-walkers about today. Probably because it was a Saturday. I don't usually do Saturdays or Sundays because of the amount of weekend warriors that come out.

As I had already spotted the Goldeneye I decided to bypass the Gladwin Hide and head straight down to the James Hide.

I sat down in the lower tier and, shortly after, I was joined by my mate, Ron. There was already one other guy in there and he had the best seat in the Hide, right by the feeders. Ron decided to sit upstairs and I joined him a short while later.


There wasn't much about, although the feeders were doing excellent business. Just after Ron headed off a Marsh Tit arrived and posed. I heard it first and then watched as it waited for its' turn on the feeders.


Whilst looking at the birds on the feeders, my attention was drawn down below, where at least 3, maybe 4, Bank Voles were hurriedly scurrying around. They all darted for cover whenever there was an unusual sound or a warning from one of the birds above.

One of these warnings was of a Sparrowhawk which flashed by, right to left. Everything scattered and nothing ventured out for a few minutes.

I could hear Buzzards screeching away in the distance and they could be seen high above the treeline. Then a Water Rail appeared, out to the left and proceeded to wander up towards the back of the lagoon, keeping tight to the reeds. When it reached the end it began its ablutions, which took about 15 minutes, before it started on the return journey.


There were still lots of sheep milling about the area - the local ovine workforce.

I then headed off down the trail to the Dragonfly Trail entrance. The first bird I saw around the feeders was another Marsh Tit. Or it could quite easily have been the same one. There were about 3 or 4 hen Pheasants hoovering up the seedy remnants. A Song Thrush was sitting on the fence out to the left, minding its own business; while a Green Woodpecker could be heard calling out.


On the trail back a Kestrel flew over and then I met Ron again. He kindly offered to drive me up to Stansted Abbots to see the Little Owl. It was snuggled up in the brickwork, looking down at us, with its' beady, yellow eyes. I took a few, over-exposed shots of it. The Owl must have seen all this before as it didn't move and just let its' eyes follow us everywhere.

He dropped me back at the Reserve and I carried on. I reached the Bridge and watched as a flock of LTTs flew past, all chattering away to each other. I scanned as many as I could, before I latched on to a lovely Coal Tit, in amongst them.

I then found myself in the White Hide. Three other people were in there, one of them a volunteer from Rye Meads. There were a pair of Common Snipe on the little island just in front of the Hide. One of them ventured in quite close before flying off.


We headed back to the James Hide and sat there for a while but there was nothing extra to see, other than a quick fly-by from a Kingfisher. I left him chatting away to some other people, who had a pair of noisy toddlers with them and headed back to the Watchpoint.

There being nothing much to see here I decided to head home. A quiet, but nonetheless, satisfying day out.