Saturday, 24 January 2015

Saturday 24th January 2015

An afternoon in the sunshine at Amwell resulted in some excellent sightings and views, some OK photos, some rubbish photos and the return of the bean bag lost on Thursday. 

First the bean bag - many thanks to Darren Bast for retrieving it for me after I threw it out of the White Hide earlier this week, I will try to hang on to it next time!

I arrived at about 1.30, parked on the hardstanding in Hollycross Road and walked towards the Dragonfly Meadow immediately spooking an unseen Kestrel which then hovered over the meadow by the car park area until I pointed my camera at it when it flew off to the bottom of the meadow by the Bailey Bridge, and then through the trees and out of view.  Great start - not!

Quick check of the feeders in the Dragonfly Meadow - just Blue & Great Tits, with a few female Pheasants hovering underneath.  The walk down the path & over the bridge revealed nothing at all except my realisation that it was indeed a cold wind blowing.

Arriving at the Bittern Pool at about 1.45pm, I thought a quick scan of the far reed bed was called for, and there, to my surprise, a Bittern walking across one of the bays in the reeds - Good! seen it, Damn - brought the short 300mm lens today! Bugger!  Looked behind me and there was chap with a BIG lens (I found out later 600mm + 1.4 Converter!).  "There's a Bittern out there" I advised him, "Where?" he asked, "Just the . . . hang on. it's gone!"  He stayed on for about 10 minutes and deciding I was mad, he walked on mumbling about "needing to keep moving".  Five minutes later - Bittern time again, this time I took a chance and pointed to camera (and 300mm lens) in the general direction and pressed the shutter release.  Here's the result:

Good eh!  Talk about "Spot the Birdie!"  I was pleased when I zoomed in and saw this

Not too shabby a start I thought!  I hung around for a further 20 mins, just long enough for the 600mm man to return, but didn't see the Bittern again - but I did show him the pictures, and left him standing there while I went for a walk in the woods.

The woods, with sun in my eyes and strong wind at my back, were very quiet but I did manage to track down a couple of Siskins feeding on the Beech (?) masts.  Here's one . . . .

From the woods to the main viewpoint, very windy and quite cold.  Someone said there was a Drake Smew visible from the Gladwin Hide.  The afternoon was young, the light was good so I set off.  Reached the hide, all quiet outside, opened the door - absolute bedlam!  Probably 10 people all viewing the Smew at the right-hand end of the lake, with running commentary by one observer "He's up", He's down", He's up", "He's down","He's up", "He's down" - shut up man unless you want to join him! "He's up", "Where?" (new arrival in the hide) "By the upturned boat" "The what?" "Upturned boat, the white blob, over there", "Where" "By the upturned boat" "Can I get in there please" (another new arrival with a scope on tripod whose legs work independently of the owners brain!) I swear he nearly took some blokes eye out - shame it wasn't the commentator "He's up again" - oh please!  Anyway, I took my views for 5 minutes, managed to block the view of the man with the independent tripod for a while, and then, gave up my viewing station to a father and his young daughter, much to the disgust of  "the independent tripod legs" - result!

Back to the viewpoint, quick look around, nothing doing, so on to the James Hide.  Upstairs met a man & wife coming out "There's a Kingfisher in the trees on the left" they said, "Great, thanks" I replied, "About 20 minutes ago" they say, "Ah, OK, maybe he'll come back" I say.  Inside the hide settle down when the door opens, "Did I leave my gloves here" says the man (from the man & wife double act), "How the f??? do I know" I thought, thankfully I said "Er, where were you sitting?"  A quick check, and a pair of gloves under my feet - literally - and he's gone.   The Kingfisher arrived, posed for a few minutes and left.  Photos.


On to the White Hide, to hopefully reclaim my bean bag and watch for the Barn Owl.  Darren was there and so was the bean bag, reunited I thanked Darren and put it in my pocket for safe keeping, I'll deal with it later!
Late arrival of the owl, not until 4.40pm, views were great, company was good, light was bad, photos were terrible.  Walked back to the car at about 4.55pm consoling myself with "It's good to see the Barn Owl" and thinking "I only want one bloody picture!" and Spurs lost at home to Leicester! 
Can't win 'em all.

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