Thursday, 13 August 2015

'Awkers at Amwell!

Amwell Nature Reserve - 31st July 15

Weather: Mixture of sun and cloud. Quite warm.

Bird Total: 40
Plus: Bank Vole.
Plus: 7, 12, 16-spot and Harlequin Ladybird and Larvae; Bluebottle; Flesh Fly; Hoverfly; Midge; Mint Leaf Beetle; Pond Skater; Red-tailed Bumble Bee; Soldier Beetle; Thick-kneed Flower Beetle.
Plus: Brimstone, Comma, Gatekeeper, Green-veined White, Holly Blue, Large White, Meadow Brown, Peacock, Small White butterflies. Cinnabar moth caterpillars.
Plus: Banded Demoiselle, Blue-tailed, Common Blue, Red-eyed damselflies. Brown Hawker, Common Darter, Emperor, Migrant Hawker, Ruddy Darter dragonflies.

It was a much better day, weather-wise. Although still too many clouds about for my liking.

The day started well, listening to Blackcap; Chiffchaff and Great Spotted Woodpecker, whilst waiting for the train. And I saw a pair of Great Crested Grebes on the way down. From the train.

Unusually, there were only a few ladybirds to be seen on the trail up to the Reserve. A Common Tern was busy fishing the canal and I could also hear a Green Woodpecker laughing out. Almost at once the flies began buzzing me for some reason and continued to pester me all day. It was also 'Flying Ant' today, culminating in swarms of them later on in the afternoon.

Looking out from the Watchpoint I could see 1 Oystercatcher; 2 Redshank; 1 Common Sandpiper; a few Common Terns and several Lapwing. There were quite a few Peacock and Gatekeeper butterflies on the Buddleia beside me. There were also the usual suspects swimming around the Lake.

There weren't too many people about, Birders anyway. But there were plenty of the usual dog-walkers; cyclists and joggers. I only saw 2 'familiar faces' all day, one on his way home in the morning and the other just before I left.

It was already quite warm, with no breeze. But the clouds were already starting to bunch up and crowd over. 2 Buzzards were high in the sky over Easneye Wood and there were plenty of butterflies on the wing as I headed down to the Gladwin Hide.

I took a quick look out from the lesser watchpoint, seeing nothing new and then proceeded to keep a watch for any Red-eyed damsels on the lilly-pads. In the event I only spotted two, mixed in with plenty of Common Blues. But, just before I reached the Hide, I spotted a couple of dragons. One was a male Migrant Hawker, flying up and down the Canal, patrolling his little patch. The other was a female Brown Hawker, ovipositing on the other side of the Canal.

From the Gladwin Hide the only thing out on the Scrape was Coot City. Plus one juvenile Common Tern, continually calling out for food from the adults that were flying past. It got fed at least twice while I was there. Looking out over the lake I could see 5 Great Crested Grebes; a pair of Grey Herons on the opposite bank and a few Pochard. Surprisingly, there was quite a lot of pollen flying around. I thought that we had seen the last of that for the year.

Then I heard a ruckus out to my right, by the water's edge. The pair of Redshank I had seen earlier had obviously flown down to this area and were being harassed by a pair of Moorhen. I waited in vain to see if they would creep nearer, for a photo.

Then one of the Grey Herons flew over and scared everything off. When the adult Terns returned they couldn't find their youngster anywhere. Just before I left I could see a few Reed Warblers flying around the area.

I walked straight up to the James Hide, finding one other man in there, in the choice seat. But, in fact, it was very quiet, with only a few Great Tits on the nearly empty feeders. There was also a fair bit of noise coming from the upper tier so I decided to head off towards the Dragonfly Trail.

Just outside the Hide I spooked up a Comma butterfly. In fact, I did rather well for lepidoptera today, seeing around 10 species in total.

I reached the Twin Lagoons. On the left-hand lagoon I could see Brown Hawker; Migrant Hawker and Common Darter, together with lots of blues. I also found quite a few Cinnabar Moth caterpillars on their favourite Ragwort. On the right-hand lagoon I managed to get a few photos of a newly-emerged Migrant Hawker, which let me get very close. Another Common Darter and then a Ruddy Darter were equally as obliging. An Emperor was hawking around the lagoon, while another Brown Hawker flew in and landed quite close. I spent a leisurely and pleasant 25 minutes or so here.


But then a very noisy family group arrived, with dogs, so I headed off towards the Dragonfly Trail. I noted that the Slazenger sock was still hanging around, although its' plumage was looking very faded now.


There wasn't anything to see from the Bridge so I moved on to the Trail. It was initially quite good here, with lots of odonata flying around. Unfortunately, there were quite a few people as well. A couple who were tramping up and down the boardwalk, in 'all the gear, no idea' mode, while a fly fisherman decided it would be a good idea to walk past a couple of times, instead of taking another route. There was even a man with a dog, obviously deciding that the 'No Dogs' rule didn't apply to him. Finally, the noisy family had followed me and decided to have a picnic nearby.

Ruddy Darter
With all this mayhem going on I decided to head for the river. Here I found a male Banded Demoiselle, the only one of the day; a lone Brimstone, a few Meadow Brown and more Gatekeeper butterflies; lots of various ladybirds, including Harlequins; a regiment of Soldier Beetles; a lone Thick-kneed Flower Beetle and a pair of mating Mint Leaf Beetles. So, quite a good haul.

Female Common Darter
There were still a few people scaring off everything on the Boardwalk, so I broke for lunch and sat down on the bench furthest away from all the hoo-ha. Whilst having lunch I was entertained by a pair of Great Crested Grebes, with at least one Humbug on the back of one of the parents. Then a Kingfisher flashed past, a whizzing spectacle of blue and orange.

Eventually everyone left me to it and I strolled up and down the Boardwalk in peace. Unfortunately, most of the Odonata had the same opinion as myself and had left too, with only the odd dragon appearing. So I headed off, but not before seeing a Great Spotted Woodpecker fly over.

I sat for 10 minutes in the James Hide, seeing only 'Banksie', the Bank Vole, before heading back to the Watchpoint, where I spotted a lone Little Egret fishing out to the right. Time to head home.


'Today’s subliminal thought is: …..'