I paid a visit to Amwell yesterday-the first for some time. It hasn't been very exciting for the regulars over the last few months, compared to other sites in the county, and I've found that Rye Meads has been a better bet for a nice selection of birds recently.
There has been a lot of criticism this year, in particular, over the way the reserve has been managed, which eventually made its way onto social media, and it's impact on the birds and wildlife. On my last visit, very dense thickets of Purple Loosestrife had taken over the islands, and much of the waters edge, and the willows and alders in the reed-bed were getting rather large ( a great way of demonstrating how wetlands evolve into woodland, but not good when reeds are supposed to be one of the more important habitats). Hollycross has been quite poor as well, with many of the pools overgrown, and the meadow turning into rank grassland. I have been told that impacted the breeding of wildfowl and terns (no waders bred as far as I know) which has been poor this year. Judging by the changes since my last visit some of the concerns have been taken on board and steps are being taken to improve matters-the islands have been cleared, as has the area in front of the viewpoint, and some of the larger shrubs have been removed on Hollycross, opening up some areas.
The usual Sunday regulars were present when I arrived, some of whom I haven't seen in months so it was nice to catch up and chat. They eventually went off to do their usual circuit so I spent the morning chatting with Bill. We didn't have many birds on the lake, duck numbers were very low, though there seemed to be a few Teal in. It was mainly Canada Geese, a few Greylags, Coot and Cormorants. A few Buzzards, Kites and Sparrowhawks were up in the air. Hirundines seemed to be coming through now and again with good numbers of House Martins, some Swallows and one or two Sand Martins. Judging by the fact that sometimes birds were heading up-river suggested that some of the flocks were doing circuits.
Bill and I eventually wandered down to Hollycross, stopping off at the Bittern pool for a quick scan (an injured Bittern has apparently over summered). Picked up a few butterflies-Speckled Wood, Red Admiral, Comma and Small White, on the way. More duck were on Hollycross-mainly Pochard with a few Grebes. Bill showed me the the work that has been carried out-we can now see the channel that runs under the small bridge which was completely over grown, and hopefully this will be expanded and some of the other areas will be cleared. Didn't see any dragonflies apart from a few Common Darters and a fast moving metallic green damsel of some kind-could have been a Willow Emerald.
By the time we got back to the view-point Mike Ilett had turned up(fresh back from a trip to Barra for the American Redstart) and soon after Phil arrived with the dogs. Lots more geese were flying in and we also had the regular Hobby hunting over the wood-a bird that has been rather hard to find locally this year. We also had a rather odd hybrid goose which looked a bit Emperor or Blue Snow Goose, but the consensus is that it is some sort of Barnacle cross, maybe with Ross's. Looked a lot better than most hybrids.