Thursday, 16 April 2015

Water Vole at Amwell!

Amwell Nature Reserve - 23rd March 15

Weather: Sunny early on, clouding over later.

Bird Total: 53
Plus: Muntjac; Rabbit; Water Vole.

Carol got it right with the weather today. Sunshine early on, clouding over later in the afternoon. Good educated guess?

It was a quiet journey down, nothing to be seen. The water levels over the adjacent fields have deteriorated down to just small ponds now.

I arrived at the Watchpoint to find only one other person there. Out over the lake I could see plenty of Lapwing, spread out over the island; a pair of Redshank, flying around before landing directly in front on the mudflats; 2 Little Egrets and several Grey Herons; a pair of Great Crested Grebes and, finally, I managed to connect with the pair of Oystercatchers that had been visiting for the last few weeks. They were both on the main island, probing away with their bills, as they do.

There were still plenty of wintering duck about, lots of Shoveler; plenty of Teal and a few Pochard. But no Wigeon this time.

On the walk down to the Gladwin Hide, looking out over the lake, I could see at least 3 female Goldeneye. From the Hide itself I could see that a male had joined them and then another Little Egret. A male Reed Bunting sang out to my left and I spotted it atop a bush. There followed a little bit of commotion as several pairs of Canada Geese fought for the choice bit of scrape out front, with one pair eventually taking the bragging rights.

I then took a walk through the Wood, but there wasn't much about. I did hear Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming and a distant call of a Green Woodpecker and, just before I reached the end of the trail, I heard a Little Grebe calling out. The Wood seems to be a bit of a hit or miss area.

A quick, furtive look over the Bittern Pool produced nothing more than the usual Tufties and Coots. And what looked like the same Greylag Goose as last week, in the same bit of reed-cut.

I sat down in the James Hide and looked out. The feeders were all nearly empty, with only Greats; Blues and Dunnock visiting regularly. There was a Common Snipe in the reed-cut, feeding away, while another Little Egret flew over from left to right, towards the lake. A Cetti's Warbler sang out to my left.

I stayed for about 35 minutes but, mindful that the sunny weather would soon be replaced with clouds, I decided to head around the trail towards the White Hide. I stopped off at the area where the Water Voles were seen but, despite hanging around for half-a-hour, seeing none I moved on. I did see a lovely Coal Tit, though. And Chiffchaff and Green Woodpecker were both calling out.

There was a familiar face in the White Hide when I arrived. During lunch here, I watched the Grey Herons and Little Egrets fly back and forth from the large roosting island in front. There were also several displaying Lapwing. But the stars here were a pair of Redshank, which landed on the mudflat in front of the Hide and proceeded to walk towards the Hide. They got close, but not close enough. I only got a few modest shots of them.

I took another chance back along the trail to search for the Voles. To my delight, just as I was approaching the area, I could see, what at first, looked to be either a Coot or a Moorhen. But, as I looked through my Bins, I could see a Water Vole, sat atop a little stump, in the middle of the river.

I took a few, quick shots and then tried to get closer. I took another few shots but decided to hop over the fence and crawl towards the river. When I popped my head up , over the bushes, I found, to my disappointment, that the Vole had disappeared. I sat down by the stream for another 20 minutes or so, hoping to see it again but no joy. On the walk back a few Goldfinches flew over.

I headed towards the Dragonfly Trail again, this time stealthily creeping up slowly towards the Bridge. With no one about I was hopeful of spying the Bullfinch again. And again I was delighted to see a male and 2 females, feeding on the Hawthorn flowers. I only managed one shot before they all flew off.

The Trail area itself was disappointing. The feeders were empty here, too. No birds around, other than a hen Pheasant. A Song Thrush was singing out.

When I arrived back at the Bridge, I spooked a Jay, which flew off. Must have been another female.

I found the James Hide empty when I arrived and sat down in the choice seat. The feeder area saw no change, other than Phil the Pheasant returning again. Then a Kingfisher flew in and perched at the back of the lagoon. Unfortunately, he didn't fly any closer and flew off soon after. A total of 8 Buzzards could be seen, high over Easneye Wood.

About 10 minutes later, a Water Rail flew over the lagoon, from right to left and disappeared into the reeds. Coots and Moorhens and Mallards swam about and then the Rail popped its' head around the reeds, just in front, just like last week. Only this time I was too slow, before it saw me and scuttled away.

The Cetti's Warbler also made an appearance, out to the left. It flew up and stood on a reed stem and would have given a great view, if it hadn't of been for a clump of reeds in the way. After the Lord Mayor's show of last week, I guess.

A Song Thrush then flew overhead, before a Grey Heron landed in the reed-cut and proceeded to walk up closer to the Hide. I was sure it could see me but it kept on coming, right up to the lagoon. It then waded around, catching the odd meal, before having had enough of me and flew off.

A couple of people then came in and sat down for 10 minutes. I didn't see them leave but when I turned around I could see that they had left their rubbish behind!

I then decided to head back to the Watchpoint, with a view to heading off soon after. On the way a pair of Muntjac could be seen foraging. There was nothing to add at the Watchpoint, although I did get close up views of a Redshank and a Little Egret.

On the walk back down the trail towards the station I could see a lone Redwing in the adjacent field.

Not a bad day out, again!

'I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven.' Emily Dickinson