Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Bearded Tit meets a Bearded Tit!

Amwell Nature Reserve - 23rd November 15

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

Bird Total: 49
Plus: Bank Vole; Grey Squirrel; Muntjac; Weasel.

Although it was a very cold day, we were, allegedly, in the middle of a short, sharp cold snap and it is forecast to warm up later in the week. However, I still dug out the thermals.

Even better, the cold snap didn't seem to have any effect on the transport. A foggy morning was forecast, which is why I took a later train. In the event, the fog disappeared quite quickly, leaving a light cloud cover, which cleared up over lunchtime.

All the extra ponds and lagoons on the fields had mainly frozen over. I could see a few Canada Geese skating over a few of them, while a Grey Heron avoided it all, by staying in a high tree.

As I walked up the Canal path I heard, then saw, a female Great Spotted Woodpecker. It flew off when a cyclist sped by.

There were a couple of people at the Watchpoint, when I arrived. And, at first, there didn't seem to be much about, other than the usual suspects. I was hoping that the Redshank and Dunlin, that were seen yesterday, were still about. Unfortunately, they had flown.

Initially, I could see Great Crested Grebe; Wigeon; Shoveler; Teal; Pochard and Lapwing. Then Bill 'The Don' Last turned up and immediately pointed out a female Bearded Tit, which was hopping around the base of the reeds, directly in front of us. I was elated to see my namesake. I took a few photos, but she was way too small and far away.

Today's photos were rubbish, so here's one I took last year.
A few other people had turned up and we all watched her move back and forth, feeding. She wasn't going to get any closer and so, with a fellow Birder, I decided to head to the Gladwin Hide. The first Goldeneyes had started to show up and we eventually spotted one Drake and at least 2, possibly 3, females. The drake stayed way out to our right, but a couple of the females floated by, allowing a few record shots.

Then another fellow Birder, Alan 'Seymourbirdies' Reynolds appeared. A month tick. Another Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen, as was a Buzzard, which flew over the Hide. Not long after, we headed back to the Watchpoint. Where Alan spotted a male Goosander. It was a first for me, here at Amwell. We watched as it headed towards the White Hide. Alan scampered off to try and get a closer photo.

While I was hanging around the Watchpoint a Weasel scampered past us, a few metres away. Then we spotted a Muntjac walk out to the end of the spit and jump into the lake, swimming over to Cormorant Island. Another first. Then the Beardie turned up again and I watched her for a few minutes, before heading down to the James Hide. A pair of Little Egret and a pair of Common Snipe were also seen.

On the way I spotted another Muntjac but only managed to fire off one photo, before she fled the area.

I duly arrived at the James Hide, knowing that this and the White Hide had recently been vandalised. I guess some people just have too much time on their hands. Most of the problems had been cleared up, but the bench next to the feeder window had been destroyed.

The feeders had finally been put back up and the reeds had been cut back a little outside, where a channel had been cleared towards the White Hide. Birds were utilising the feeders, including the first Reed Warblers of the season and then another, male, Muntjac crept in and snuck down for about 10 minutes, before moving off. In that time, a little Bank Vole zoomed about the area, trying to pick up the spilt seeds.

Another Birder came in and sat down. He spotted a Kingfisher at the back of the lagoon. A new perching stick had been placed just in front of the Hide and looked to be a brilliant photo opportunity, if the Kingfisher perched up on it. Unfortunately, it flew around the area a few times, before flying off. I think the new perch is just a bit too close to the Hide and it may be very optimistic of us to hope it flies in and poses.

After lunch, I walked down to the Dragonfly Trail, to find the feeders there full, but with no visitors. Just a cock Pheasant below. However, I was surprised to see a Marsh Tit fly over and land in a tree right next to me. We were both surprised to see each other and, unfortunately, the Marshie reacted quicker than I did and flew off.

I headed back, seeing another Kingfisher over the lake. I then arrived at the White Hide to find most of the benches had been turfed out of the windows, onto the grass outside. Idle hands.

Darren Bast was sat sitting there, waiting for the Barn Owl, which had been seen recently, hunting at dusk. We sat there in vain, as it didn't appear. With nothing else on view we headed back to the Watchpoint.
Here, we found the Gull Watch Gang in place, looking for the hybrid gulls. I mean, Yellow-legged and Caspian. They spotted a few of each, but there must have been over 3000 Gulls out there. Actually, it was quite a sight, white dots on the lake everywhere.

However, it was starting to get dark and so I left them all to it and headed off. A very good day. I had turned up to try and see Redshank and Dunlin, but saw Goosander; Goldeneye and Bearded Tit instead. Not too shabby!



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