Sunday, 7 September 2014

Quiet Weekend

Big news this week was the discovery of a Willow Emerald at Hollycross by Darren Bast, Hertfordshire's first record. Not exactly unexpected, and a species I and others have been looking for for a couple of years now. Darren's been down almost every evening, concentrating on the dragonflies this year, so a great reward for the time he's put in. Unfortunately subsequent searches failed to locate it.
With Colin currently out of action, it was natural that I would end up at Amwell on Saturday to try and fine one of my own. Weather was not exactly ideal-grey and murky all day but reasonably warm. Surprised ti see the huge amount of green algae on the main lake, but not surprised when Tony said there was not a great deal happening.
The Hobby is still around, often perching on a dead tree by the White hide, as it was when I arrived so I went round in ther hope of getting some images. Naturally it flew off before I got there. Sat in the hide for a while, but the only bird of note was a Water Rail in the far reed bed. Would have been better if it was a Crake.
I eventually got to Hollycross, joining Tony. As expected, we did not find a Willow Emerald, though there were plenty of Migrant Hawkers, Common Blues and a few darters flying in the dull conditions, along with a rather late Brown Hawker. I examined a number of trees in the hope of finding scarring from Willow Emerald eggs without success, suggesting it might have been a newly arrived migrant, though the habitat is ideal so they may have been in the area and gone un-noticed {rather unlikely given the amount of coverage}.
While searching, a Cetti's Warbler performed fairly well, as did a juvenile Reed Warbler.

The Migrant Hawkers proved too difficult sensing every camera movement, and nothing else was happening so I made my way back to the viewpoint, had another scan and left, bumping into Phil Ball by the Konik Pony field. He had just come back from two weeks in Mexico seeing some good birds and mammals. I told him that it was pretty quiet, discussed the Wryneck, the  Emerald and a few other things. Annoyed to see a tweet when i got home that he had found a Black Tail Godwit feeding in front of the viewpoint. No idea where that had been hiding, so I guess it had just dropped in.

Sunday started off rather dull and murky again, though by late morning the sun was out. With Whinchats, Wheatears and so on appearing all over the place I thought I'd go round Aston End and up the river. Not ideal for either species {i have only seen one Whinchat in the area, and Wheatear is more likely in spring} but Redstart does turn up now and again.
Distinctly autumnal in feel with Robins ticking in every bush, they turned out to be the only chats encountered. In fact early on it seemed as if there were no birds around at all, with very little seen. Things picked up just past the Aston End water tower when i heard a Little Owl calling. Not long after, a Hobby was seen flying around the tower-there were large  numbers of Swallows and House Martins here and over High Wood. Further down scanning the valley I picked up two Kestrels, two Sparrowhawks and several Buzzards.
Apart from a few Chiffchaffs the only other warbler was a nice juvenile Willow-unlike the last walk when sylvias seemed to be moving through. Another Little Owl was seen in the usual tree by the stable block and a very big noisy flock of Linnets was found in the large hedges near Gresley Way.
Few butterflies flying-just a few Small Whites and Speckled Woods.

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