Thursday, 25 June 2015

Lots of Odonata action at Amwell!

Amwell Nature Reserve - 16th June 15

Weather: Warm and sunny for most of the day. Clouding over in the afternoon.

Bird Total: 42
Plus: Bank Vole; Grass Snake; Rabbit.
Plus: 7 & 16-spot Ladybirds; Bluebottle; Buff-tailed Bumble Bee; Capsid Bug; Crane Fly; Dark Bush Cricket; Flesh Fly; Hoverfly; Long-jawed Orb Spider; Midge; Mint Leaf Beetle; Pond Skater; Red-headed Cardinal Beetle; Red-tailed Bumble Bee; Ruby-tailed Wasp; Scorpion Fly; Soldier Beetle; Spotted Crane Fly.
Plus: Green-veined White, Holly Blue, Speckled Wood, Small White butterflies. Cinnabar Moth.
Plus: Azure, Banded Demoiselle, Blue-tailed, Common Blue, Large Red, Red-eyed damselflies. Black-tailed Skimmer, Broad-bodied Chaser, Emperor, Four-spotted Chaser, Hairy dragonflies.
Plus: Common Spotted Orchid, Early Marsh Orchid, Forget-Me-Knots; Southern Marsh Orchid.

Another nice, sunny, warm day and time for another visit to my current favourite wildlife reserve. My good friend, Barry, again accompanied me and we duly arrived at the Reserve around 9.45.

Today was completely different to the previous visit. There were vastly more insects about for one thing, including lots of Odonata and hardly any cloud for another. We kept an eye out for the earlier reported Scarce Chaser but there had been no further sightings since the original one.

After crossing the railway line Barry suggested we take a quick walk through the Woodland. There was lots of birdsong but, because of the heavy foliage, we didn't see much other than the usual suspects. Plus a few dog walkers passed by, which probably didn't help.

There were a couple of familiar faces at the Watchpoint, including one of Barry's friends, who he had nicknamed 'The Don'. Looking out from the Watchpoint we could see a pair of Redshank; 7 Little Egret; 8 Grey Heron; a pair of Great Crested Grebes; a lone Little Ringed Plover; a Buzzard high over Easneye Wood; lots of Lapwing; a few Common Terns; lots of Warblers and Reed Buntings flying around the phragmites and finally, loads and loads of Canada and Greylag Geese.

We took a stroll down to the Gladwin Hide, where a second Lapwing had joined the lonesome one. We might have a pair here, with some young on the horizon. Out to our right we could see a fledgling Reed Warbler being fed by both parents.

There being nothing much else of note, we headed up to the James Hide. Outside was a Grey Heron in stalk mode, possibly the same one as in previous visits. The young family of Great Tits were still about, now feeding themselves. A Bank Vole was scurrying around, glad of the wastage on offer. There were the usual Reed and Sedge Warblers flying around, plus a few Reed Buntings. A Cetti's Warbler was sounding off to our left, but remained hidden. A Green-veined White and a Peacock butterfly fluttered in front of us. Actually, butterfly sightings today were again well down.

It was warm and very humid by now, with both of us removing our fleeces. Hot enough for us to take a stroll up to the Dragonfly Trail. Before then we arrived at the twin lagoons, where there was a bit of odonata action. First up was a lovely male Emperor dragon, patrolling the left-hand lagoon. It had a few minor disagreements with a couple of Four-spotted Chasers every now and then. There were more Reed Warblers on show here and Song Thrush and Chiffchaff could be heard singing, but I was concentrating on the dragon action.

Out on the lilley-pads a few Red-eyed damsels could be seen basking in the sun, with a few Common Blues flying around them. Then we spotted a Four-spotted Chaser perched up in front of us on the right-hand lagoon, giving some great views. Then a lovely Cinnabar Moth appeared, possibly the same one as before.

Then we found ourselves standing on the Bridge, looking down for Banded Demoiselles, where we spotted at least 3 males and 3 females. A little further on we spotted a female Demoiselle, perched up nicely, basking in the only ray of sunlight in the immediate area.

We entered the Dragonfly Trail and found my fellow birder and Blogger, Alan Reynolds. He was with a few other familiar faces, Katie Kingfisher and her mother. We all had a good chat, as well as keeping an eye out for odonata.

There was lots of action taking place here, with Emperor, Broad-bodied and Four-spotted Chasers and Black-tailed Skimmers, all flying around, buzzing each other. Plus lots of blue damsels and a few Large Reds. The odd Banded Demoiselle flew by as well. It was all great stuff. Lots of insects too, including a lovely Mint Leaf Beetle and a Capsid Bug.

Unfortunately, Barry was feeling the heat and went and had a sit down, while I carried on walking up and down the boardwalk. After a spot of lunch we headed down to the river, seeing nothing in particular. Chiffchaffs were sounding off around here, but there was a notable lack of butterflies. And, just before we left, I spotted another Grass Snake!

We walked around the Trail again, seeing much the same thing, before heading back to the White Hide. On the way to the Hide I spotted a Speckled Wood butterfly and a Red-headed Cardinal Beetle.

There wasn't anything out on the Lake that we hadn't already seen before. A few Little Egrets walked close to the Hide but the immediate area was taken up by scores of Canada Geese. The aerial display that we had seen the previous week was absent today and, in fact, we didn't see any hirundines all day. Then a lovely Ruby-tailed Wasp appeared right in front of me.

From here we walked back to the Watchpoint, but again, there wasn't anything new to see. Barry was still suffering from the heat and had neglected to bring any water with him, relying on a flask of soup. So we called it a day late afternoon and headed home. Unfortunately, I heard later that a Black Tern and a Med Gull had turned up after we had left. C'est la vie!

'A cure for agoraphobics is just around the corner.'