Thursday, 29 October 2015

'The Vibes' - Negative or Positive?

Amwell Nature Reserve - 27th October 15

Weather: Cloudy early on, brightening up later. Slight breeze.

Bird Total: 49
Plus: Grey Squirrel; Muntjac; Soay Sheep.
Plus: 16-spot Ladybird; Bluebottle; Brassica Bug; Caddisfly; Flesh Fly; Hoverfly; Nursery Web Spider.
Plus: Common Darter, Migrant Hawker dragonflies.

It was forecast to be cloudy and overcast early on, brightening up later after lunch. Which it did, much to my surprise. See, they can get it right, sometimes! I caught the later train again, getting me to the Reserve around 11-ish. Even the trains played ball today, so even they can get it right, too!

However, there were a few events this morning, which I always term as 'negative vibes', that happened beforehand. None of which I will bore you with. Suffice to say that they put me in a curmudgeonly mood. Some were offset by seeing a Jay from the train, plus the usual Canada Geese and Great Crested Grebes on the adjacent fields and lakes.

Just as I entered the Canal path, I heard a Ring-necked Parakeet screech out. And before I reached the bridge I spotted a few interesting insects, the plum spot being a Brassica Bug, in its' yellow form.

When I arrived at the Watchpoint, there were 4 or 5 familiar faces. I spent about 45 minutes there, seeing at least 1 Red Kite; 3 Buzzards; a Kestrel, which flashed through, disturbing all the Gulls, of which I could see at least 5 species; couple of Lapwing; a Common Snipe, which flew in; Shoveler, Teal and whistling Wigeon; a Great Crested Grebe and a few Grey Herons.

The Island in front was completely devoid of bird-life, for some reason. Possibly because I could see the Greater Crested Jenny, in her winter plumage, along with 4 others, at the back of the lake, working.

I wandered off, down the trail, to the Gladwin Hide, seeing nothing much on the way down. Looking out from the Hide only yielded much of the same as from the Watchpoint. The only interesting thing to note was the sight of scores and scores of Gulls, all floating around in one big roost. As I mentioned earlier, I could see at least 5 species of Gull out there. Yellow-legged and Caspian Gull had been reported in the last few days, but I was buggered if I could see them, amongst all that lot!

A lovely looking Nursery Web Spider - one of many!
Looking out above the lake, over Easneye Wood, where the Autumn colours were looking quite spectacular, I could see a Great Spotted Woodpecker, high up on a dead tree, whilst a Jay passed overhead. Then a Pied Wagtail flew across my view, chirruping away, bouncing up and down as it passed by.

Just outside the Hide I spotted a large, interesting-looking bit of Fungi. I tried to get a few photos of it, from different angles. Just to be different.

I headed off towards the James Hide, seeing a lovely little Wren on the way. I could also hear a Cetti's Warbler and a Chiffchaff calling. A couple of skeins of Canada Geese flew noisily overhead and whiffled their way down to the lake.

I sat in the James Hide for over an hour, not seeing particularly much at all. In the distance I could see Jenny and her volunteers still working, cutting some of the reeds back. In fact, the only things I did see were a Kingfisher, which flew in and sat on one of the posts for a brief few seconds; a lone Dunnock, which flew off when it saw me and a conjoined pair of Common Darters, which whizzed past.

I had lunch just before I left. A Cetti's had sounded off and then 2 Jays flew over. A couple of people poked their heads in, asked if anything was about and then left.

I decided to walk over to the Twin Lagoons, then towards the entrance to the Dragonfly Trail and back down the other path. I found a couple of Common Darters on the right-hand lagoon, one of which posed for me. A lone Migrant Hawker was on patrol. I wondered if these would be the last odonata of the year. I was having withdrawal symptoms already. The only other thing of note was the call of a Green Woodpecker.

When I arrived at the Dragonfly Trail entrance I could see that the feeders were now up and running. However, there were only several Chaffinches in attendance, plus one Blue Tit. Half-a-dozen hen Pheasants were below, sweeping up the remnants.

I walked back, noticing that a few dog walkers ignored the 'Please Close the Gate' and 'Dogs Must Be On a Leash' signs. I walked around to the White Hide and then returned to the James Hide. Nothing of note was seen from either Hide. Again, there was a distinct lake of passerine activity about.

So I decided to move back to the Watchpoint, to see if the YLG or the Caspian had showed. Ade was already there and scanning the area. Ron and a few of the gang also soon showed up and all started looking through the hordes of Gulls that were already on the lake, as well as flying in, squadron after squadron.

It looked like an impossible task, to me, to spot the rarer Gulls out there. However, I was in the company of some hardy, dedicated Birders and they soon picked out a YLG. Whilst I was waiting for that, I spotted a pair of Little Egret, directly in front of us and also a pair of frisky Muntjac, out to our left.

A small murmuration of Starlings then appeared, just before dusk and gave us quite a good show, before performing a mini waterfall down to their roost. They did quite well, considering the never-ending stream of Gulls that were continually arriving, plus the continual departure of scores of Geese. It was quite an aerial spectacle.

However, darkness was descending, early it seemed, since the clocks had gone back. So I headed for home. It was nice to end on a few positive vibes.

'The average human attention span is one second shorter than the estimated goldfish attention span.'