Sunday, 18 October 2015

A Shockingly Quiet Day at Amwell! *

Amwell Nature Reserve - 8th October 15

Weather: Sunny and warm early on, clouding over later.

Bird Total: 46
Plus: Bank Vole; Sheep.
Plus: 12-spot Ladybird; Bluebottle; Caddisfly; Crane Fly; Dark Bush Cricket; Dock Bug; Flesh Fly; Harlequin Ladybird; Hoverfly; Midge; Nursery Web Spider.
Plus: Large White butterfly.
Plus: Common Blue damselfly. Common Darter, Migrant Hawker dragonflies.

Well, it had to happen. Finally, I had a quietish day here, with not too much to report. It also continues the poor run of recent form. I had great expectations for today, but it was not to be.

However, this was the first sunny day of the week and I wanted to get out and enjoy the good weather, before the cold snaps and hard times arrive.


There were plenty of birds on offer, with the total species count slightly up on recent trips. The quantity of birds on show was impressive, if not the quality. And, while there were plenty of birds around, the 'birder' count was well down, only seeing about half-a-dozen people about the area.

On the journey down I spotted Little Egret; Grey Heron and over half-a-dozen Great Crested Grebes on or around the lakes. By the time I arrived at the Reserve the sun was already shining, with blue skies.

There were a couple of people at the Watchpoint when I arrived. I had heard Green Woodpecker and Pied Wagtail walking up the path, plus lots of Dunnocks, which were now finally beginning to reappear.

Out over the lake I could see a few Great Crested Grebes; several Little Grebes; a lone Common Snipe; lots of Lapwing and well over a hundred Greylag Geese. Then a skein of Canada Geese flew in accompanied by a lone Egyptian Goose. A Cetti's Warbler was singing out, somewhere.

As I looked up I could see 3 Red Kites circling high above me. Not long after Bill 'The Don' Last turned up. Barry and I knew him as our mutual friend. A Kingfisher landed on one of the goal posts in front and then promptly flew off right, behind the reeds. A Grey Heron was at the back of the lagoon, opposite, while at least 3 Reed Buntings could be seen balancing precariously on the phragmites in front. Directly in front of me I could see a female Dark Bush Cricket, her long, pointy ovipositor giving her away.

I took a walk down the trail towards the Gladwin Hide, seeing a lone teneral female Common Blue damselfly and some conjoined Common Darters. Then I heard a familiar sound above me. I was surprised to see several Swallows racing around. A bit late for them?

Looking out from the Gladwin Hide I could see lots of Geese; Coot and Mutes swimming around, along with lots of wildfowl, including several Wigeon. A pair of Little Egret were perched up on the island away to my left. To the right of them was a Grey Heron and to the right of that were a pair of Great Crested Grebes. Then a Jay flew over, to my left.

Ruby Tiger caterpillar?
I hung around for a further 20 minutes, seeing nothing, so I headed back up the trail. On the way I spotted a Dock Bug and an unidentified caterpillar. There were loads of Nursery Web Spiders about plus strands of web lifting up on the light breeze. I only noticed them because I kept walking in to them.

I arrived at the James Hide and spent a fruitless hour seeing only one Buzzard fly over; one Moorhen swimming around the lagoon and various Cormorants and Gulls fly over. Brian was also there with me, plus another guy and we all sat there patiently waiting for the Kingfisher to show up. It didn't.

So I decided to take a slow walk around to the Twin Lagoons. On the way I spotted more Dock Bugs. By the left-hand lagoon I could see several more conjoined pairs of Common Darter and a few Migrant Hawkers. On the right-hand lagoon there was a lone Little Grebe, while I could hear a Great Spotted Woodpecker calling out.

From here I walked back down the trail and ended up in the White Hide. I hadn't visited this Hide for quite some time, as I looked upon it as an old curiosity shop or maybe even a haunted house. As I had lunch I added 12-spot Ladybird and a cock Pheasant to the list. About half-a-dozen Sheep were grazing the field out to my left. There was plenty to see out over the lake, albeit a bit distant.

On the path back to the James Hide I nearly trod on a little Mouse. I followed two other people into the Hide but managed to get the choice seat. They left soon after, as nothing much was happening. The Kingfisher may have been conspicuous by its' absence, but a lovely little Wren posed for me, while a small party of Long-tailed Tits also briefly showed up.

I finally cottoned on to the fact that I was going to have a quiet day today and so I decided to head back to the Watchpoint for a few minutes and then head home. Just as I started walking back, Jenny turned up to check on the stairs leading to the upper tier of the Hide. They had been roped off as dangerous. I guess you could call the place a bleak house. We had a quick chat before I found myself at the Watchpoint, where I found Ade Hall, with his scope, scanning the area.

He pointed out a Common Gull, while I could see 3 Little Egrets, almost together. There were now plenty of Gulls out there, the roost seemingly starting early this year. I hung around for about 30 minutes before calling it a day. A quiet one and not as good as the visit last week - a tale of two cities I guess, but it was still nice to be out in the sunshine.


'Slow down and enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast, you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.' Eddie Cantor