Sunday, 6 September 2015

A White House Martin

Colin and I decided not to go on a trip this weekend. The weather didn't look too bad for the east coast, though as it turned out Saturday was a sea-watching day, with little in the way of land birds migration  and indications were that today would be a bit quieter.
Since the car has had a lot of work over the last month, and appears to be reliable I thought I'd better go to Amwell. Apart from the brief visit for the Stints in August, its been getting on for two months since I had a full morning there. Indications were good for dragonflies-I woke up to bright sunshine after a cold night, but unfortunately by the time I got out the cloud had come over and it remained cool for some time.
A few of the Sunday regulars were present as I arrived, and Tony Hukin and Bill Last appeared soon after. There did not seem to be a great deal happening at the view point and when Ron arrived from his walk reporting Spotted Flycatchers and warblers at Hollycross it seemed to be the place to be. However I was looking at the huge hirundine flock at the south end of Hardmead Lake and noticed what seemed to be a miniature tern among them. I went down to the bottom hide with Bill, Tony and Ron but we failed to pick it up again, but a walk further down was worthwhile and we found it on the wires among House Martins (and a Grey Wagtail!). It proved hard to pick up in flight, unless it was against a dark background and trying to get the camera on it was difficult to say the least. Structurally it was a House Martin, seemingly somewhat larger and normally appeared to be pure white. However, dusky markings appear on the under wing coverts so it couldn't be an albino. It remained on view until around 1000, along with some 250 House Martins (probably more seen today than the rest of the year), around 50 Sand Martins and maybe 25 Swallows. As we left, having been joined by Phil Ball five Parakeets flew over.

We made our way back to the view point-still not much. Best of the bunch were two Common Sandpipers, a Snipe, another Grey wagtail and some lingering Common Terns. I missed three Swifts unfortunately. Siskins seem to be present-14 flew over.
Eventually I made my way down to Hollycross. The two Spotted Flycatchers proved hard to locate,  staying on top of the red plane trees along the walk way and only really viewable from some distance from the field. There were a lot of warblers here as well, some Blackcaps, two Lesser Whitethroats, a couple of Willow Warblers and lots of Chiffchaffs.
The sun finally appeared some time after 1100, but dragonflies were scarce. Apart from Migrant hawkers I could only find a couple of Common Darters and a few Common Blues. A few butterflies also appeared-a few Whites, a couple of Red Admirals and Commas, Speckled Woods and a nice Holly Blue.

I missed a few birds I would normally expect to see, but the total of 60 species is pretty good for one of my visits.

No comments: