Monday, 30 May 2016

A 'Oneshank' appears @ Rye Meads!

Rye Meads - 20th May, 16

Weather: Cloudy with sunny intervals. Warm.

Bird Total: 48
Plus: Konik Pony; Redpoll Cattle; Rabbit.
Plus: Azure, Banded Demoiselle, Blue-tailed, Common Blue and Large Red damselflies; Hairy dragonfly.
Plus: Holly Blue, Orange Tip, Peacock, Small White butterflies.
Plus: 2, 16 and Harlequin Ladybird; Alderfly; Banded Snail; Bluebottle; Crane Fly; Dark Bush Cricket; Flesh Fly; Green Nettle Weevil; Green Tortoise Beetle; Hoverfly; Long-jawed Orb Spider; Midge; Nursery Web Spider; Pond Skater; Wasp Beetle; Water Boatman.

It was time for my now-quarterly visit to Rye Meads. I had intended to visit Amwell today, but the poor weather prompted me to make a last-minute decision to switch to RM. The Kingfishers were rumoured to be fledging soon, anyway. And I haven't had much Kingfisher action this year.

I met a friend of mine on the station platform and chatted on the journey, so I didn't see much outside. Whilst waiting for the train, I could hear Collared Dove and Chiffchaff. After a thankfully, trouble-free journey I walked into the visitor centre just on 10. On the walk up, I could hear Chiffchaff, Greenfinch and a Cuckoo.

'Yes, I'm a member and yes, I know my way around,' in answer to the usual questions. 'Much about?' I asked. 'Um, not sure.'

Well, there wasn't much about until I sat down in the Draper Hide. Not too many birds anyway, other than a singing Blackcap. However, there were some interesting insects on the way.

My first Green Tortoise Beetle of the season and only my second-ever; an immature Azure damselfly and the first Wasp Beetle of the season. It was looking like another invertebrate day, today.

Another birder had tagged onto me, at 'Water Vole Corner', as he had stated that he was a novice 'at this sort of thing'. Whilst in the Hide he bombarded me with numerous questions. 'What's that one called?'

I patiently answered everything I could, whilst straining to see if there were any interesting birds on show. There were - a pair of Redshank were wandering around, at the back of the lagoon. After about 10 minutes I noticed that one of them had only one leg and was hopping around, trying to feed. I decided to call him 'Oneshank'.

A few Lapwing were on show, 'peewitting' whilst giving an aerial display; several pairs of Common Terns, all pairing up; a few Pochard and a pair of sleepy Shoveler. A Stock Dove flew in. A score or more Swift were whizzing around the skies. Otherwise, it was all the usual stuff.

I was a little bit surprised not to see any Green Sandpipers on their favourite lagoon. In fact, I didn't see any all day. Very strange, considering this Reserve is quite famous for them. I guess they've all moved on to greener pastures, for the summer months.

My friend moved on after about 10 minutes. Other people came and went. The water levels outside were quite low but surprisingly, there wasn't much wader action, other than the Redshank and the Lapwing. Allegedly, there had been plenty of wader action in recent weeks. But not today.

I moved on myself. I managed to spot another male Blackcap, in the trees. A Reed Bunting was calling out. Then a Green Woodpecker yaffled away. Further on, I came across a singing Garden Warbler. There were several families around this part of the Reserve - Canada Geese; Coot; Moorhen and Mallard, all trailing several chicks.

I visited the Twin Hides. Both disappointing. The water levels were quite high, looking out from the Gadwall Hide. Only a lone Little Grebe, swimming near the Hide, was of any interest. And it was Gull City, looking out from the Tern Hide.

Moving on, I arrived at the Kingfisher Hide. When I entered I found all the usual faces present. However, it was good to see Katie Kingfisher and Mrs Water Vole there, too. Nearly all the seats were taken and people were still arriving.

The Kingfishers put on quite a good show, arriving with fish and departing soon after, on a fairly regular basis. They made several appearances whilst I was there, although only as close as the middle post. Other than the Kingfishers, we heard a Kestrel calling, a Garden Warbler appeared, out to the left, whilst other Warblers could be heard singing. A Large White and a Holly Blue butterfly were seen, as well as an unidentified damselfly.

After an hour or so, it became apparent that the young weren't going to fledge today. It was also obvious that the adults weren't going to fly any closer than the middle post. So I opted to take a walk down to the Warbler Hide.

I had quite a fruitful walk down to the Hide. Just outside the Kingfisher Hide, a Green Nettle Weevil was seen. A few Orange Tips fluttered by, some posing. Then a House Sparrow, beakful of flies, posed for me, before flying off.

A little further on and a Mint Leaf Beetle was seen. There was plenty of Ladybird action along here. Three Blue-tailed Damselflies flew up, as I walked past. Then I spotted a male Banded Demoiselle, sitting on a leaf, by the stream. As I positioned myself for a photo, the female appeared, higher up. I managed a few shots, before both of them floated over to the other side of the stream.

Even further on, a Large Red and another Blue-tailed damselfly appeared. However, the wind was picking up now, making photography rather difficult. The clouds were also starting to roll in and the light started to fade.

Just before I reached the Warbler Hide, I spotted 3 Hairy dragonflies, hawking up and down the stream. Unfortunately, as with earlier sightings, they didn't perch and pose.

I sat down in the Warbler Hide and looked out. Not much was to be seen, other than the newly-arrived Redpoll Cattle, 7 of them. On the adjacent field there were 6 Konik Ponies. One other birder had just left, seeing only a Grey Heron and a Reed Bunting. Lunch.

A few more people arrived, saying that this was their first visit to Reserve. I inadvertently advised them to pay a visit to HMWT Amwell, saying that, in my humble opinion, it was a much better place for wildlife.

Just as I said that, a Hobby appeared, giving some great views, hunting back and forth, over the field. A Kestrel then appeared, out to the left, hovering, as is their wont. A Buzzard could be seen, higher up, gliding the thermals. Finally, a Sedge Warbler and a Reed Bunting appeared on the reeds, just in front of the Hide, also giving great views. All in the space of 10 minutes.

I'd already had lunch, but maybe I could squeeze in a slice of humble pie. Although I was a little occupied withdrawing foot from mouth.

On the way back to the Kingfisher Hide, I spotted what was probably the same Hairy dragonfly and female Banded Demoiselle. Although I didn't hang around, as I wanted to experiment with the 2x extender again.

The same crowd were still in situ. One or two faces had left, but it was essentially as you were. The experiment with the extender wasn't a resounding success. Maybe I'll leave it at home, from now on. The Kingfishers weren't as active as before and so I headed off around 4-ish.

I paid a visit to the Draper Hide again, via the summer route, after not seeing too much else on the way back. 'Oneshank' was still around, hopping away. Unfortunately, it'll probably get predated soon. The sun came out again, briefly, but no birds swam in close to the Hide.

I walked back to the Visitor Centre, again noting the absence of any Water Voles at the 'corner'. The Kingfishers will probably fledge in the next few days or so, but I won't be back until the next quarter. It was a nice day out, but I think Amwell still has the edge.

I managed to finally remove my foot from my mouth, before walking back to the Station.


'Staggeringly, every hour of every day:
-3.7 million barrels of oil are extracted from the Earth
-932,000 tons of coal are removed from the Earth
-395 million cubic meters of natural gas are removed from the Earth
-4.1 million tons of carbon dioxide are put into the Earth's atmosphere
-9,300 more people inhabit the Earth.'

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Another Dog Day Afternoon @ Fishers Green! *

Fishers Green, Cheshunt - 17th May, 16

Weather: Warm and sunny early on, with slight cloud. Overcast later.

Bird Total: 43
Plus: Grey Squirrel.
Plus: Azure, Banded Demoiselle, Blue-tailed and Common Blue damselflies. Hairy dragonfly.
Plus: Green-veined White, Holly Blue, Large White, Orange Tip, Peacock, Red Admiral and Small White butterflies. Green Carpet moth.
Plus: Ladybird Larvae, 2, 7, 22 and Orange Ladybird; Alderfly; Banded Snail; Bluebottle; Buff-tailed Bumblebee; Cardinal Beetle; Crane Fly; Dark Bush Cricket; Dock Bug; Flesh Fly; Harlequin Ladybird; Hoverfly; Ichneumon Wasp; Long-jawed Orb Spider; Mayfly; Midge; Nursery Web Spider; Pond Skater; Red-eared Terrapin; Red and Black Froghopper; Red-tailed Bumblebee; Robber Fly; Roman Snail; Scorpion Fly; Slug; Soldier Beetle; St.Mark's Fly; Water Boatman.

The only way that I can describe the amount of dog-walkers present today, is as an infestation. Seemingly, almost every person that passed by had a dog with them. Surprisingly, there were no 'doggy-bags' anywhere. However, there was plenty of evidence of dogs, almost everywhere. The only plus was that none of them attacked me.

Don't get me wrong. I have a great affection for our canine friend. I just wish that owners were made to go on training courses. Especially one woman, who had 8 (eight) dogs with her, all champing at the bit and looking at me with hungry eyes. Fortunately, the ‘iron lady’ managed to control all of them, eventually. Consequently, the emptying of these animals made for a very aromatic day out.

Despite the weirdness of our weather now - rain, sun, rain, sun - nearly all of the lagoons and ponds, seen from the trains, look to have dried up now. Mamma Mia! The flora looks as if it’s been having a field day, as there has been an explosion of growth over the last 10 days or so.

All of which meant that it was now difficult to see the birds. However, hope springs eternal. There was nothing much to see on the way down, while the total number of bird species seen today was quite low. In fact, the quantity of birds wasn't much better. If you count butterflies, dragons and damsels, then I saw more invertebrate species than birds today.

Actually, that was probably because I was more interested in the invertebrates and I came away with quite a high total. It had started just after I left home, seeing my first-ever Green Carpet moth. This meant, of course, as I kept my eyes down, I didn’t see any raptors all day. Empty skies probably meant that they had all finished coming out of Africa.

My targets today were to see if the Great Crested Grebes were still on the nest and to see if there were any Demoiselles about. I also wanted to see if there were any Nightingales around. I managed to achieve two out of three. Not bad.

Walking up the Canal Path, beside the river wild, towards the Teal Hide, I could hear several Chiffchaffs. In fact, I heard several species today, rather than seeing them, thanks to the profusion of floral growth. The first of the horde of dog-walkers passed me by, as I looked for any signs of insect life on the adjacent nettles. These are usually the best things to look at, if you're hunting 'inverts'.

I stopped by the Lock and looked around the adjacent pond area. Last year I spotted several notable species here. Unfortunately, not today. Maybe a tad too early. There wasn't much out on Friday Lake, either.

However, once I had sorted myself out, I found several Dock Bugs on the bramble, on the way to the Hide. There were several large clumps of cloud, but the sun shone warmly down.

Just outside the Hide, as I walked into the woods, I checked for signs of life. I was delighted to find lots of things. First up, was a singing Whitethroat, who flew before I could get near to it. Chiffchaff and Blackcap were very vocal around here, but remained elusive.

There seems to be a profusion of Ladybirds this year. There were scores of them around this particular area. Actually, there were loads all over the Reserve. Here, they were mainly 2-spots. Also seen in this area were Black and Red Froghoppers, Soldier Beetles and Cardinal Beetles.

I was also delighted to see the first damsels of the day. Azure and Blue-tailed were first up, in several forms. I then spotted what I was sure was a Common Blue, but when I approached it with the small camera it flew up and away. It landed a few feet away, to be then snaffled up by a spider. Oops, sorry! I know, I know, first do no harm!

Spiders was also numerous around here, mainly Nursery Web Spiders. Some of them were larger than I had seen before. I could see several Ladybirds entangled in the webs. If that weren't enough, a Robber Fly entered the fray, the muggers of the insect world.

After spending a happy 20 minutes here, I entered the Teal Hide and looked out. Not much initially, other than a pair of Little Egret. The flora was overgrown out there, too, hiding most of the birds. A Canada Goose family could be seen to the right. A pair of Lapwing flew up. A lone dragonfly flew past, no doubt a Hairy.

With not too much about, I decided to continue through the lakes. I spotted a Garden Warbler and a Blackcap, just before I reached the eastern side of Friday Lake. A fracas between several Mallards scared out seven little ducklings and then their mother. A Cuckoo could be heard calling.

The first butterflies appeared. A lovely Red Admiral flew in and posed right in front of me. A few Large Whites were around, as well. Cetti's and Reed Warbler could be heard singing. Then a Sedge Warbler appeared, singing its’ raucous rendition, high up on a branch. A Chiffchaff also called out, before flying past.

It was quite a nice, sunny walk around the lakes area. Only spoiled, somewhat, by the large number of dog-walkers. Spoiled, as in ‘dog mess’ everywhere. Or maybe that should read 'soiled'. I hesitated to kneel down and take any photos of anything.

I then reached an area that was good for Hairy dragons last year. Sure enough, another pair could be seen, patrolling along the edges. Unfortunately, they didn't land. Calling Common Terns flew overhead, while a Great Spotted Woodpecker also called out.

Pollen became an issue, today. As did the millions of Midges. I had popped a pollen pill earlier. I wish they would come up with a Midge pill, as well. It’s enough to give you heartburn.

Just before the end of the trail, I came across a fruitful area of bramble and ironweed. There were loads more Ladybirds here. Mainly Harlequin, but with some 2, 7 and 22-Spots. Another Soldier Beetle appeared, marching around, as did a Cardinal Beetle, who looked like it genuflected before flying off again. Hoverflies were abundant.

I joined the main trail, towards Hooks Marsh and Fishers Green. Passing lots of dog-walkers. Was nobody at work, today? Or was everyone pulling a 'sickie' because of the sunny weather? Or was it the forces of dark matter?

Just before I arrived at the Bridge, I spotted the first of several Orange Tip butterflies. A pair, in a courtship dance. It was the second time this month that I noticed the female sticking her abdomen up between her wings. Some sort of scent gland, to entice the male, maybe? It’s complicated, I guess.

I entered the trail towards Fishers Green. More butterflies appeared, a pair of Holly Blues and then a lone Green-veined White. I then came across a male Banded Demoiselle. Unfortunately, I only managed to take a few quick shots, before he was scared up by none other than a nosy and noisy dog. The suffragette had already walked on, calling it to heel, her attention focussed on her generic fruit-based device.

Another pair of Common Terns flew by and then I spotted the first of several Mayflies, delicately hanging on to the underside of a leaf. More Soldier Beetles appeared, obviously looking to form a regiment, then another Mayfly. Even more Ladybirds were around here, plus Midges and pollen.

I then arrived at the Great Crested Grebe nest. I was very surprised to see one of them still sat on the nest. It’s been nearly a month since my last visit. After a few minutes, a second Grebe arrived, which immediately went into threat mode. The sitting Grebe also appeared agitated. Can't be the partner, in that case, I thought.

Then the Sitter rose up, revealing at least three eggs. They must be due to hatch soon, surely. I was even more surprised to see a Red-eared Terrapin in the same place as last time. Possibly the same one?

I continued on, towards the Bittern Hide, hearing Ring-necked Parakeets screech out. There were quite a few chicks in this area - Coot, Moorhen, Goose and Mallard. All of them crying out ‘feed me, feed me!’ I've recently been on a bird language course.

Just before I arrived at the Bittern Hide, I spotted a second Great Crested Grebe nest, out on the relief channel, right next to a noticeably larger Coot nest.

When I arrived in the Hide, I found nobody at home. Only a Canada Goose family sat sitting underneath the feeders, with four sleepy little Goslings. The feeders themselves were nearly full, but with no diners. Out over the lake, were the requisite noisy Black-headed Gulls, but with several Common Terns flying around. There wasn't much else otherwise.

Reed and Sedge Warblers were singing out, in amongst the reeds, in front. Then a Moorhen family swam out, seven little black fluff-balls, squeaking away. Another Hairy dragon could be seen, flying back and forth. Then it started ovipositing, in the middle channel.

Then my friend, Markus, turned up and we had a good chat. Not long after, a large group of people arrived and so I decided to head off. Just outside, I showed Markus the Grebe nest. While we were looking at it, a male Banded Demoiselle flew in, just in front of us and landed.

I started walking up the trail towards the Grebe Hide. There was lots of Warbler song around here, with several Swifts screaming overhead. The picnic area was predictably packed with families, nearly all with associated dog or dogs.

I checked most of the angling spots, eventually spying another Hairy dragon, patrolling back and forth. I waited for about 10 minutes, but it wasn't going to land, so I moved on. Further along, another male Banded Demoiselle appeared.

Even further along, I spotted another Holly Blue and then watched several Mayflies doing their ‘dance of lurve’. Beyond them, on the channel, were three more Great Crested Grebes.

I paid visits to all the other angler spots, after passing the Weir, which was devoid of life. Nothing of note was seen. A Grey Squirrel saw me and scampered away. I didn't see any Muntjac at all today. Maybe the deer hunter was about today.

Eventually, I was sat in the Grebe Hide, looking out. In all, there must have been several pairs of Great Crested Grebes around here. Two pairs were involved in a territorial dispute. However, other than the Grebes not much else was about. Just Tufted Duck, Coot, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Mallard and a lone male Pochard.

Not long after, a male Gadwall flew past, while scores of Swift were flying around. Strangely, about 15 minutes later, all the Swift had disappeared.

A pair of Grebes swam in close, so I tested my new lens with the extender, with poor results. Can't have been me, must be have been the poor light around here!

I started back, taking a right turn at the Weir, to check for the reported Nightingales by the Power Station. Unfortunately, I didn't hear any and, in going into ‘bird-song mode’, I scared up a female Banded Demoiselle. Luckily, she didn't stray too far and I managed to get a few record shots.

I delved further into the bramble to follow her, where I spotted another female and then several males. Unfortunately, I was looking into the sun and then the sun disappeared. The wind blew in, making all the damsels take shelter. However, it's one area to visit in the future.

I walked on, hearing no Nightingales, only Chiffchaff song. I visited the pond from last year, seeing nothing, only managing to disturb a pair of sleeping Mallards. A little further, the first Scorpion Fly of the season appeared.

I reached the Bittern Hide with no further additions. A few people came and went, but there wasn't anything to be seen, so I headed off myself. The clouds had now completely covered the sky and it looked like it might even rain.

On the walk back along the relief channel I spotted a third Great Crested Grebe nest, not far away from the first one. That might explain the tête-à-tête earlier. It will be interesting to see how many chicks are produced from all three nests.

No problems on the trains today, thankfully and I arrived home just after seven. Another long day, but another good one.


'It really bugs me when people use insect puns.'


For more of my photos please visit my Flickr site.


Tuesday, 24 May 2016

INFORMATION ALERT!

Dear Reader,

You may, or may not, have noticed, that some of my Blog titles have been ending with an *.

I am acutely aware that, visiting the same Reserves, week in, week out, my Blogs can become a little repetitive. Therefore, I have been trying to 'jazz' them up a bit.

Consequently, every time you see a Blog that finishes with an *, the story will contain a puzzle. It might be in the form of various songs from a solo artist, or group. It might have films starring a famous actor or actress. Or even book titles from a favourite author. However, they will all have a 'common denominator'.

That's probably why some of my grammar has been a bit 'confusing'. It's quite difficult weaving in the odd song or film title. There are usually around 10 or so titles in each Blog.

The first one was way back in September, last year: 'A Migrant Hawker Fest!'

So, if you like solving puzzles, then this is for you. Let me know if you need clues, or even the answers.

Or not.

Any feedback would be good. Preferably constructive.

I'm also considering blogging just once a month now, at the end of each month. A monthly summation, in essence. That's due to various reasons.....but that will depend on the feedback!

Thanks to all for your interest.

Best wishes,









The Bearded Tit (TBT)


Sunday, 22 May 2016

Black Terns @ Amwell! *

Amwell Nature Reserve - 12th May 16

Weather: Sunny, blue skies with slight cloud later. Very warm.

Bird Total: 60
Plus: Rabbit.
Plus: Azure, Blue-tailed, Common Blue, Large Red damselflies.
Plus: Brimstone, Green-veined White, Holly Blue, Orange Tip, Peacock, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell butterflies. Mint Moth, Poplar Hawkmoth.
Plus: 2/7/16-spot and Harlequin Ladybird; Alderfly; Bee-fly; Bluebottle; Buff-tailed Bumblebee; Crab Spider; Crane Fly; Flesh Fly; Green Nettle Weevil; Hoverfly; Mayfly; Midge; Nursery Web Spider; Pond Skater; Red-tailed Bumblebee; Spotted Crane Fly; Water Boatman.
Plus: Cowslip, Cow Parsley, Dandelion, Early Marsh Orchid, Forget-Me-Knots, Hawthorn, Lesser Celandine.

It was another marathon session today. I woke up early to see the heart of the sunrise and so decided to get up and head out, seeing as it was going to be a lovely sunny day. In fact, the weather was forecast to be very warm, sunny and cloudless. Which it was, but they omitted to mention a fierce cold breeze early in the morning. I had left my fleece at home and was sorely missing it, early on.

There were 5 Great Crested Grebes to be seen, out on the lakes, on the journey down. On the walk along the Canal Path Swifts were screaming overhead. However, I kept my eyes glued to the flora around me, as I walked, hoping for some interesting insects. There were scores of Ladybirds about, mainly 7-spots, but with a smattering of Harlequins.

It was a cool, crisp morning as I walked along. There were few clouds, but there was a slight mist and a slight frost. A very cool breeze was blowing.

A Pied Wagtail called as it flew overhead. A pair of calling Common Terns were flying up and down the Canal, before heading off towards the lake. Cetti's Warblers were screaming out.

I reached the Watchpoint just before 7am, but nobody was about. However, just after I arrived Barry Reed turned up and then another familiar face and one other appeared. Out on the lake I could see a Little Egret close in; 3 Redshank, two of which were feeding together; several Lapwing, dotted around; a pair of Great Crested Grebes; a dozen or so Common Tern; a few sleepy Shoveler and a couple of sets of Canada and Greylag Geese, with Goslings.

The others soon left me to it. I guess they had work to go to. I scanned the lake again, seeing an Egyptian Goose fly in and land on one of the goalposts, disturbing a few of the Gulls. I watched, amused, as it then flew over to a group of Cormorants. It looked as if it was trying to interact with them. The Cormorants ignored it and eventually all of them flew off, leaving the Egyptian Goose alone and looking a little bemused.

I would have stayed a little longer, but the cool breeze coming in off the lake was making my eyes and nose run. So I headed down to the James Hide, ostensibly to try to warm up. It may have been sunny but the forecast warmth was slow in arriving.

Looking out from the Hide, all I could see were 5 Tufted Ducks and a lone Coot. The bright sunshine was being reflected up off the pond, directly into my eyes and so I had to sit back to avoid it.

After about 10 minutes of nothing happening, I was actually starting to get a little bored. A yawn escaped me. It wasn't much of an opening session. I had heard that the feeders were to stay empty until September. Then, suddenly, I could hear a Cuckoo calling, somewhere out to the left. It continued to call, on and off, for the next hour, but never flew closer.

A couple of Grey Herons flew over. Then a Jay. There was plenty of Warbler song, from the reed-beds. Indeed, I could see a few of them flying around the area every few minutes. The Reed Buntings seemed to be the only little birds willing to stand up and be counted, albeit at the back of the reeds.

I could see a Red Kite, high in the sky, away to the left, circling on the thermals, before disappearing. A Wren then showed itself, to the right of the Hide. It gave me a sample of its' loud song, before, it too, disappeared. I am still amazed that such a small bird can be one of the loudest.

Then I could see one or two reed stems moving, just in front, slightly to the left. I continued to watch for a few minutes, to be eventually rewarded with an excellent view of a Sedge Warbler. It posed for me, for a few seconds before flying off. Then a few minutes later, a Reed Warbler did exactly the same, in almost the same place.

A woman arrived and sat down. She excitedly informed me that she had just seen a Cuckoo and a Black Teal. A Black Teal? Oh, she meant Black Tern. I was then asked the eternal Birders question – ‘Much about?’ I replied, ‘Ducks and Geese and you and I!’

She left soon after, disappointed not to see a great deal outside the Hide. Just after she left, a Grey Heron flew in and immediately went into 'hunt mode'. It eventually crept close enough for a few photos.

A few Orange Tip butterflies fluttered past. Then I saw what looked like a Cardinal Beetle fly past. It would be the right time of year for them. I was then certain I spotted a dragonfly on the lagoon, but it disappeared before I could confirm it.

I had been in the Hide for nearly an hour. It had warmed up considerably and so I decided to head back to the Watchpoint. Just as well, as 4 Black Terns could be seen out over the lake. They had been around the area for a few days now and I had hoped to see them today.

It was Bill Last that pointed them out. Although Jenny, who had also just arrived, pointed me in the right direction to see them. There were about half-a-dozen people at the Watchpoint, when I arrived. All looking at the Terns. Unfortunately, they stayed out in the middle of the lake, before soaring up high and heading north.

Bill had brought one of his moths with him today, a Poplar Hawkmoth. A very pretty looking thing and very photogenic. The Redshank count rose to 4.

I had a nice chat with Jenny, before heading down to the Gladwin Hide. The Mute Swan nest was still there, now with 5 eggs. There was also a Coot nest nearby, as well. Jenny was going to put up a sign, especially for dog-walkers, warning of the nests.

It was actually quite fruitful on the walk to the Hide. I had a quick flash of blue, almost certainly a damselfly, before spotting a couple of Mint Moths. Then a Red Admiral dashed past. There were more Ladybirds along here, with one of them - a 2-spot – having been caught by a Crab Spider. Very ghoulish!

I sat down in the Gladwin Hide and looked out. Not much was around, other than Geese; Coot and Gulls. Although I did hear an Oystercatcher peeping. I tried to spot them in their usual place, but the flora had really grown up around the area and they stayed hidden. A Reed Bunting was singing, out to the right.

Not long after, a Common Tern appeared and landed on the scrape. A second also appeared and they again did their courtship dance. I assume they would be nesting here. A Brimstone butterfly struggled past the Hide, fighting the strong wind.

Looking out to the left, towards the main island, I could see 2 Little Egrets, balancing on the branches. Then a lone Lapwing flew in and landed, near to the Terns. A pair of Great Crested Grebes swam past, followed by another pair.

I headed back up the trail, a long distance runaround. It proved to be quite fruitful again, as I spotted my first Mayfly of the season. A Green-veined White flew slowly past and then alighted onto a flower. There were dozens of Common Craneflies about, but then I found the rarer Spotted Cranefly. A Small Tortoiseshell butterfly could be seen nectoring. Then I was certain I could see a Common Blue damselfly, sat on a blade of grass, hanging out over the river. It flew up and away before I could get a photo. Just before I reached the Watchpoint again, I spotted a Green Nettle Weevil and then another Mayfly.

Everyone had left the Watchpoint by the time I had returned. The only other extras out there were a pair of Shelduck and a couple of drake Pochard.

Just before I entered the Wood, I bumped into Alan Meadows. I had to sadly inform him that he was too late to see the Black Terns. In the Wood, I could hear plenty of birdsong, notably Chiffchaff and Cetti's Warbler. A male Blackcap could be heard singing as well and I managed to spot him soon after.

Another Green-veined White and a male Orange Tip were seen, while I saw a pair of Common Terns calling overhead. Nursery Web Spiders were in evidence around here and then another Red Admiral appeared. There was the sound of a grass-cutter ahead; Jenny was hard at work! It was perpetual change around here! We had another quick chat before I crossed over the newly worked-on bridge and headed for the James Hide.

I only intended to have lunch here, before heading around to the Dragonfly Trail. The Moorhen family looked like it had unfortunately gone down to just 2 chicks, from 4 last week. I then received a text from Ron, saying he was already on the trail, so I headed off.

Just outside the Hide, a male Blackcap was seen. I came face to face with Ron just before I arrived at the Twin Lagoons. On the left-hand lagoon, a Common Blue damselfly was seen. Then Ron pointed out a dragonfly. It was a Hairy, the first of the season. Unfortunately, 2 women with 4 dogs appeared, letting the dogs jump into the lagoon, disturbing everything.

We moved over to the right-hand lagoon, seeing a pair of Blue-tailed damselflies, before one of the women and 2 of the dogs arrived. I had to bite my tongue. It was nearly enough to put me in a bad mood for a day.

Just after entering the Dragonfly Trail, another Brimstone and then a Holly Blue butterfly showed. Jenny arrived not long after. By then, Ron and I had wandered up and down the boardwalk a few times, seeing about 12 or so Large Red damselflies. We could see at least 3 pairs, 2 of which were ovipositing.

We had also spotted Azure, Blue-tailed and Common Blue damsels. Unfortunately, no dragons yet. A walk by the river produced little, other than a pair of Hobbys in the sky and a Peacock butterfly. Chiffchaff were very vocal around this area.

A few Early Marsh Orchids were starting to bloom in the Orchid Garden. A little later, taking a break on one of the benches, we had a good sighting of a Hairy dragonfly, as it flew past.

From here, we did a roundabout trip to the James Hide and thence onwards to the White Hide. During this period, we managed to see Hobby; Buzzard; Oystercatcher; Common Sandpiper; Chiffchaff; Garden Warbler and a Jay. The Warbler song-fest seemed to get even louder.

Outside the James Hide gate, we stopped to see a pair of nesting Treecreepers. Just beside them were a pair of nesting Blue Tits. More Orange Tip butterflies could be seen. We spent a few minutes trying to photograph the Treecreepers. They were quite quick, flying in and out of the nest. We compared photos – ‘Yours is no disgrace!’

Soon, we were back at the Watchpoint. Bill Last and Ade Hall were there. I think I’ve seen all good people today. A pair of Little Ringed Plovers showed up.

By now, I was starting to flag and I was also close to the edge. It was well after six in the evening.

Ron kindly gave me a lift, back to the Station. Just before we reached the car, we stopped to try and locate the nesting pair of Nuthatch. Unfortunately, they weren't about today, but we did see a lovely Goldcrest nearby.

I just managed to get the train and was home just before 7.30, after a completely trouble-free journey. See, they can do it when they want to!

A very long and tiring, but ultimately satisfying day. The Black Terns were a delight to see.


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