Wednesday, 5 August 2015

A Ruddy Small Red Eyed Essex at Amwell!

Amwell Nature Reserve - 22nd July 15

Weather: Warm, slightly humid, clouding over in the afternoon.

Bird Total: 37
Plus: Grey Squirrel.
Plus: 7, 16-spot and Harlequin Ladybird and Larvae; Bluebottle; Flesh Fly; Hoverfly; Midge; Mint Leaf Beetle; Pond Skater; Red-tailed Bumble Bee; Soldier Beetle.
Plus: Comma, Essex Skipper, Gatekeeper, Holly Blue, Large Skipper, Large White, Meadow Brown, Peacock butterflies. Common Emerald, Mint, White Ermine Moths. Cinnabar, Emperor moth caterpillars.
Plus: Azure, Banded Demoiselle, Blue-tailed, Common Blue, Red-eyed, Small Red-eyed damselflies. Black-tailed Skimmer, Common Darter, Emperor, Ruddy Darter dragonflies.

Today was my first trip out since the Camargue visit. It had to be Amwell as I was suffering from withdrawal symptoms. The Weather-God was kind to us in the morning, but eventually got fed up in the afternoon and let it cloud over.

But Barry and I decided it was worth a few hours out and about. We arrived at the Reserve just before 10am, parked the car up, donned our gear and headed for the Viewpoint. On the way we spotted a couple of Commas and a lone Peacock butterfly; lots of blue damsels and an unidentified dragon. It being that time of year, there weren't too many birds about. The heavy flora was hiding some of them, others were wandering around the islands, while Great Hardmead Lake looked quite empty.

Apart from the usual suspects, we could see at least one Oystercatcher; several Lapwing; a pair of Great Crested Grebe and a few Common Tern. There was also a few Reed Warblers flying around just in front of us and a lone Stock Dove a little further out. We met a couple of familiar faces at the other Viewpoint, telling us that we had just missed a Common Sandpiper. So we headed off down to the Gladwin Hide.

On the way we kept an eye out for any Red-eyed damselflies on the lilly-pads, but didn't see any. Mainly because the sun kept darting in behind the clouds.

Looking out from the Gladwin Hide there was only really one bird of note, a Lapwing. I guess he must have failed in his attempt to woo the female, because I haven't seen her since her one appearance the other week. Hey, I know how he feels!

Coot; Geese and Pochard were milling around in front, on the scrape and we were about to head off when we saw another Lapwing, further out to the right, chase off a Common Sandpiper, which promptly disappeared way out over the lake.

We did head off soon after and, just before we entered the Woodland, we spotted some Cinnabar Moth caterpillars gorging on the Ragwort. A couple of people, with dogs, were also in this area and so we didn't see much other than a Grey Squirrel. A quick look over the Bittern Pool only gave us a lone Grey Heron.

Then we found ourselves sitting in the lower tier of the James Hide. But there wasn't a lot happening outside, other than another lone Grey Heron in stalk mode. We did eventually witness it catch and eat what looked like perch. A female Tufted Duck and 2 surviving, but nervous, chicks were also on the pond. A lone Dunnock was busy outside to our right, under the empty feeders.

On the way to the Twin Lagoons, where we were disappointed not to see anything, we spotted a male Blackcap, flitting through the branches. There was only a lone, male Banded Demoiselle to be seen from the Bridge.

We had just entered the Dragonfly Trail where we saw a couple of Large Skippers and then an Essex Skipper. There was also a Meadow Brown and a Peacock butterfly about as well.

When we arrived at the boardwalk we wandered back and forth for a while, but were disappointed to find only one male Black-tailed Skimmer. There were plenty of blue damsels around, some in cop-mode. But we did see a party of Long-tailed Tits fly by, all chattering away. In amongst them was at least one Marsh Tit.

I took a walk into the undergrowth while Barry had a sit down. Here I found a Mint Moth; several Soldier Beetles and another Gatekeeper butterfly. Eventually I gave up looking for more dragons and so we headed down to the stream. Along here we found loads of various spotted Ladybirds; several Harlequin Ladybirds; loads more Soldier Beetles, most of which were engaged in creating more regiments and finally 4 Mint Leaf Beatles. I won't tell you their names, you'll already know them.

We soon found ourselves back at the boardwalk, where Barry hurried to find some shade from the, now hot sun, as he was getting a bit of sunburn on his head. I told him if he wanted to get a head, get a hat! Boom, boom!

As I was left to it, I searched again for any Odonata. Eventually, the sun brought out several Common Darters and then, to my delight, at least one Ruddy Darter. An Emperor flew quickly past whilst I was photographing the Darters. A lone male Banded Demoiselle flew in, landed quite close, saw me and then flew quickly off. Then I spotted what I thought was a Red-eyed damselfly, but on looking at the photos later on proved to be a Small Red-eyed damselfly. I await confirmation from my contemporaries.

Eventually I was satisfied with what had shown up. I was a little disappointed not to see my other target species for today, any Emerald damsels, but I made do with the Darters. I found Barry lying down in the shade, half asleep.

As it had now started to cloud over badly we made the decision to call it a day and headed back to the car. But, on the way, Barry spotted an Emperor Moth caterpillar. A quick look out over the lake from the Watchpoint didn't elicit any additions to the list and so we headed for home.

A fairly quiet day, bird-wise, but a few good spots otherwise. On a further note, I spotted a Common Emerald Moth and a White Ermine Moth just outside my door when I arrived home.

'My father was a man of few words and I remember him saying to me, “Son......."'