Friday, 19 February 2016

All Quiet On The Amwell Front!

Amwell Nature Reserve - 2nd February 16

Weather: Sunny, slight cloud. Cool wind.

Bird Total: 49
Plus: Konik Pony; Rabbit; Rat.

Today was another one of the sunny days. The weather this winter has continued to follow a familiar pattern - strong winds, mild temperatures and periodic rain. Rain one day, sunshine the next. No wonder all the flora and fauna are confused.

The familiar sight of scores of Canada Geese were again seen, on the journey down. This time a Grey Heron was perched on a branch, surveying all before him. Or her. On the canal path, towards the Reserve, I spotted a Jay fly over and could also hear a Song Thrush, belting out its' melodic tune.

Blue Tit
I arrived at the Watchpoint to find several familiar faces. I guess they were all hoping to see the recently reported Franklins Gull. Unfortunately, it had moved on. There looked to be over a hundred Lapwing out on the lake, all going up every few minutes, in response to an unseen predator. There was also a Grey Heron, in stalk mode plus the usual wildfowl and gulls. Three Red Kites were floating up above Easneye Wood. A few Dunnocks and Robins were hopping around our feet, looking for handouts. Bill 'The Don' Last was trying to entice one of the Robins to feed from his hand.

I headed down to the Gladwin Hide, passing the 3 remaining Konik Ponies, who were cropping the grass, as per usual. I found Jenny Sherwen in the Hide, showing off her skills as a 'jill-of-all-trades' in repairing some of the shutters. Out on the lake I could see 3 pairs of Goldeneye, the males in display mode. Further back, there were a pair of Great Crested Grebe fishing; a few Wigeon whistling, but nothing much else of note. All the numbers were down again today. It seems that the mild Winter has paused migration. Disappointingly, we haven't seen any drake Smew arrive yet. Maybe none of them will show up this year.

Backlit Wren
I headed back up the trail and, together with Jenny, we took a walk through the Woodland, meeting a few other Birders. There were several birds about, all flitting around the trees, including Goldfinch. However, it was very quiet here, too. The Bittern Pool only had the usual stuff and so I soon found myself sat in the James Hide.

Which was also very quiet. The feeders were still empty. Jenny had stated that rats were present again and so the feeders would remain empty for a few more weeks. At that moment, one of the Rats wandered past. One or two people came and went.

A lightning Goldcrest!
A little later, a Little Egret flew past, from left to right. There were several visits from a lovely Goldcrest. It was quite a challenge to get a decent photo of it, as it hardly paused for a second - darting about at a rate of knots. A male Great Spotted Woodpecker flew in a couple of times, but wasn't brave enough to have a go at the nut feeder. Especially with me sat there, gurning at him. A lone female Reed Bunting showed, to my left.

I broke for lunch and then headed towards the Dragonfly Trail, via the Twin Lagoons, where I spotted a lone Little Grebe, continually diving. A few people were already at the gate, watching the feeders. The usual Tits and Finches were queuing up, awaiting their turn, including a pair of Greenfinches, who muscled their way to the front of the queue. There were also 2 male Great Spotted Woodpeckers. The Pheasant count today was a paltry three.

I was disappointed not to see any Lesser Redpolls again, as they were being reported here, all the time. I then made my way up towards the 'new' area, past the bridge. On the way I passed a lovely show of Snowdrops and then a lone Periwinkle.

It was mainly woodland along this stretch of the trail. Disappointingly, all I spotted was a lone Mistle Thrush, feeding on the adjacent field. On the way back, just past the Trail, looking out over Holycross Lake, I could see a pair of Goldeneye, plus a few Pochard.

I made my way to the White Hide, where several more people were already ensconced. Out on the lake I could see a pair of Teal, fairly close in. Then I spotted Great Black-backed; Lesser Black-backed; Herring; Common and Black-headed Gull, all standing together. The comparative size differences were quite obvious.

I paid a brief visit to the James Hide again, not seeing anything extra. Back at the Watchpoint, the Gull Watch Brigade had turned up. In the approaching gloom they spotted Caspian and Yellow-legged Gull.

There wasn't much else to see and I thought about staying to try and see the Mandarin Ducks that were still around. However, the weather was starting to chill me and, mindful of what happened last time, I headed for home.

A quiet day today, the Goldcrest being the highlight.

'I dream of a better tomorrow, where chickens can cross the road
and not be questioned about their motives.' Ralph Waldo Emerson