Monday, 29 August 2016

Bank Holiday Monday at Amwell

I haven't written anything for a while, basically because I haven't had much to write about. There has been the usual mid summer quiet spell, with nothing much worth spending petrol money on (instead Ive been spending it on the garden) and Ive been busy doing other non birds/wildlife things most weekends.
I had hoped to meet up with Colin over the Bank Holiday and get out somewhere, always bearing in mind the problems of travelling at this time, but it never happened.
Friday was a day off, so I spent time sorting out the bottom of the garden-it was started last October with replacing the fence but was delayed because of the vast amount of ivy which took ages to clear away, and then took most of this year to die off completely. We put the remaining fence panel up a couple of weeks ago, having lived in the garage for the last ten months. Still got the new gate in there though.
Had to build a retaining wall by the steps as well to provide somewhere for the wheels bin to live. I was always a fan of Gardeners World's Geoff Hamilton and his work, and some years made a few artificial rocks out of sand cement and old compost which have weathered nicely and are now covered in moss and lichens so I thought it would be a good idea to render the wall with this mixture. Very messy as it was a case of slapping handfuls of the stuff and smearing it on and hoping it would stay on. Finished that on Saturday and luckily the rain held off.
Sunday was spent pottering in the garden for a bit but I had to call a halt when arthritis kicked in and my neck seized up. Had my first garden Red Admiral of the year briefly-recently its been mainly whites eating the nasturtiums, a few Gatekeepers and a flyby Speckled Wood. A Holly Blue has been appearing from time to time as well and there have been a few others that have not hung round long enough to identify.
Anyway on to today. Bright sunshine when I got up, I was feeling ok so why not go down to Amwell for the dragonflies? Glad I wore a fleece as it remained cloudy there most of the morning and wasn't as warm as expected. The bushes either side of the lane seemed to be full of warblers, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow, and what sounded like a rather quiet Garden Warbler which I never saw.
Met up with Bill, and it was nice to see Tony arrive not long after-I haven't seem him since his health problems over a year ago as he doesn't do weekends now.
Rather disappointed with the state of the main lake. Virtually no mud present as its been completely overgrown and there doesn't seem to have been any attempt to manage the vegetation or clear the islands. Wont be long before its just a vast reed-bed interspersed with large willow bushes and trees.
The Egyptian Geese are still around, but no young ones. Apparently they had got quite big and presumably were taken by a Fox, which seems logical considering the state of the lake edges.
Still some lingering Common Terns, adults and juveniles (breeding in the Lea Valley is delayed these days due to the gulls taking over the tern rafts) but few gulls. Most of the ducks are still in eclipse, no surprises here.
Raptors were rather distant. I had a Sparrowhawk, one Red Kite, a few Buzzards, one Kestrel and two Hobbys. A few distant hirundines remained unidentified, and there was very little in the way of movement. Bill picked up a couple of Parakeets which are definitely nesting around here now.
We went to Hollycross but it was a bit quiet. Left Bill by the gate to search for warblers and Spotted Flycatchers while Tony and I concentrated on the dragonflies. By far the most abundant were Migrant Hawkers of course. Common Darters and Common Blues were present in low numbers but I only managed to see one Ruddy Darter. No sign of any Common or Willow Emeralds despite a long search.

The Mint Beetle was a nice diversion. Very few Butterflies all morning, a few Green Veined Whites, a couple of Large and Small Whites, two Speckled Woods and two red Admirals. Nothing at all on any of the buddlejas around Tumbling Bay. About the only thing here was a rather distant Small Red Eyed Damselfly.
We met up again with Bill at mid day but he had not had much success with the flycatchers, so I decided to call it a day and return home.

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