Wednesday, 13 May 2015

After the Lord Mayor's Show!

Amwell Nature Reserve - 15th April 15

Weather: Sunny, blue skies all day. Very, very hot.

Bird Total: 51
Plus: Bank Vole; Rainbow Trout.
Plus: Brimstone, Comma, Orange Tip, Peacock, Small White butterflies.
Plus: Bee-fly; Bluebottle; Buff-tailed Bumble Bee; Hoverfly; Midge; Ruby-tailed Wasp.
Plus: Daffodils; Hawthorn; Lesser Celandine.

Barry picked me up and we drove straight down to Amwell, arriving just before 9.30. It was even hotter today than yesterday and must surely have been the hottest day of the year, so far.

The first bird we saw, after parking the car, was a Song Thrush, looking for worms in the adjacent field. Then I showed Barry the nesting pair of Nuthatch that Ron had showed me yesterday. Both birds were very busy, in and out of the nest hole.

When we arrived at the Watchpoint we found only 2 people there, a far cry from yesterday's chaos. We both scanned the Lake, finding pretty much the same birds as yesterday. Several Grey Herons, most of which were in hunt mode; a few Shoveler and Teal were still around; a Little Ringed Plover, on the main island; several Lapwing, some sounding off; 3 Redshank, continually calling out and a pair of Common Terns, sitting on one of the goalposts.

Then we spotted a Sparrowhawk being mobbed by a Carrion Crow, high up to our left. A Red Kite was gliding high over Easneye Wood, while a Buzzard soared quite near. That was it, as far as raptors were concerned today.

But it was hot, too hot already. So we headed off to view the Black-necked Grebes. We found them halfway down the track. Both were still in perfect synchronization, diving as one. They were still around the same area and didn't move too far all day. There was also the song of a Sedge Warbler, from the reeds in front. We spotted one as it climbed a reed.

We arrived at the Gladwin Hide and looked out. The scrape in front was birdless. There were several Great Crested Grebes further out, mainly to our left. A few Pochard were swimming around, in between lots of Coot and Tufties. Another Sedge Warbler entertained us to our right. Then 2 Swallows flew past, only stopping off for a quick drink.

With not much else on offer, we decided to take a walk through the Wood. At the entrance a Brimstone fluttered by. Then a Comma, a seasonal first. Peacocks were again everywhere. After a fruitless search for Treecreeper we settled for a Jay flypast. Chiffchaff were singing seemingly everywhere around us.

Over the bridge, past the Bittern Pool and into the James Hide. Where someone had blagged the best seat. Barry spotted the Bank Vole scurrying around. Reed Buntings were flying around everywhere; a Cetti's sounded off to our left; while Coot; Moorhen and Mallard swam around the lagoon trying to keep cool.

Then it was time for another Water Vole hunt. But it appeared that it was too hot even for Ratty to make an appearance. So we soon found ourselves sitting in the White Hide. Lunch.

Apart from the birds that we had already seen, we spotted a lovely, close-up view of a Common Snipe, feeding right in front of the Hide. A Little Egret flew past, from left to right. More butterflies fluttered around. 4 other people were in the Hide, two of which were quite loud, so we decided to take a wander up to the Dragonfly Trail. Only a few weeks until this re-opens.

Just outside the Hide I spotted a scarce Ruby-tailed Wasp, only the 3rd time I have seen one.

Near to the Trail we spotted a Green Woodpecker climbing one of the trees, while a Great Spotted Woodpecker sounded off somewhere. But there was only a nut feeder left in the Trail area, which was being given a good seeing-to by a pair of Great Tits.

There were a few people stretched out on the adjacent field, availing themselves of the warm weather. There were also the usual dog-walkers and cyclists, even a few mad joggers were out and about.

There was nothing else to report until we arrived back at the James Hide. To find the same person still there, but this time with his wife. A family group was upstairs. It was very humid in the Hide so we left after only a few minutes.

Back at the Watchpoint we spotted a lone Oystercatcher that had joined the party. The Redshank and LRPs were still about. A pair of Snipe were probing the mud in between the reed beds. The Common Tern count rose to 5.

After a short break we headed back down to the Gladwin Hide. On the way we took another look at the BNGs, which had drifted in even closer. Then we heard and spotted a Whitethroat, flitting around the branches beside the track. A Blackcap was seen shortly after, with more Sedge Warblers still singing out. The Warbler season looked to be in full swing.

From the Gladwin Hide we could see several GCGs swimming about and then we spotted a hybrid goose, swimming around across the lagoon. It looked as if it had a bit of several geese in it, mainly Greylag. A few pairs of Canada and Greylag Geese were preening right in front of the Hide. Tucked in beside them was a lone Lapwing.

But it seemed to be getting even hotter, so we called it a day and headed off. But not before a quick visit to the local, for a nice, cold pint.

'In Heaven there is no beer, that is why we drink it here.'