Sunday 8th @ Amwell
A morning walk round Amwell, nice sunny day, light winds, good light. Arrived at about 9.45 parked in Amwell Lane and walked in to the main viewpoint. For a Saturday, pretty quiet in terms of people around, check of the notice board and a walk to the Bittern Pool.
Watching from the viewpoint no-one else there and all quiet in the far reed beds. Stayed for about 20 minutes when I noticed a Moorhen leaving the right-hand most bay in the reeds at some speed. Looking up slightly in the reeds I could see a Bittern's neck and head poking out. A couple of quick shots and he was gone.
Another 10 mins or so and no sign so I walked on towards the footbridge over the River Lea leading to the Dragonfly Meadow. I'd heard there has been a few Bullfinches in the area and fancied seeing them.
I stood on the bridge for 5 minutes when the male Bullfinch flew in to the shrubs on the left but as usual with Bullfinches, right into the middle! Managed a shot of him and waited for a clearer view which didn't come as he flew off over the river and was gone.
Did manage to photograph a couple of Buzzards over the trees which stood out against the clear blue skies - the Buzzards not the trees. Made a note to come back next time & try again.
From there back to the Bittern Pool, quick scan, no sign so on to White Hide. I was hoping for some flight shots - an area I'm trying to improve.
There were plenty of opportunities with Herons and Cormorants flying in regularly with nesting material, and ducks a plenty on and around the lake. Gulls flying in and out and a Kestrel hovering almost above the hide which made photographing it very awkward, I did manage a shot of sorts with the Kestrel being harassed by a Black-Headed Gull.
Looking out over the water behind the island and towards Hollycross Road several Wigeon, Teal and Gadwall were feeding around the lake edge but too far away. Sitting quietly and taking in the sun to keep my hands warm, a Kingfisher paid a visit stopping just outside the hide - quite took me by surprise!
A few flying shots and around 12.30 I started back towards the Bittern Pool again, my intention being a walk through the woods and home.
Back at the Bittern Pool and soon after the Bittern appeared and gave some good views for 10 minutes, with a group of about 6 or 7 to share it!
A good end to the morning and I went home happy.
Monday 9th - Amwell
Despite weather forecasts to the contrary, Monday was clear and sunny, cool yes, but it is February after all. Having spent a few hours in the garden this morning - because the forecast said "thick cloud" - I decided on a couple of hours with the possibility of maybe seeing the Barn Owl. I still don't have a decent photo despite several tries.
I wasn't intending to walk too far today, walk down from Hollycross Road to the Bittern Pool, spot the Bittern, nip round to the White Hide, photograph the Barn Owl and home, probably spotting the Bittern again on the way out. That was the plan. In reality, only the first bit happened as planned - I did walk from Hollycross Road. At the footbridge Darren stood gazing into the Buddleias, he'd spotted the Bullfinch I saw the previous day but it was buried in the foliage - as they inevitably are - and out of shot for me.
On to the Bittern Pool as planned, no Bittern not as planned, and on to the White Hide.
On arrival a couple of other Barn Owl hunters (Brian & Kevin) were already ensconced with cameras at the ready - 3.15 a bit hopeful I think! I sat alongside, and watched the waterfowl coming & going. I tried to spot the reason for the Lapwings & Gulls taking to the air from time to time, probably a Sparrowhawk, but I couldn't see it. The light was pretty good and an early arrival of the Barn Owl would undoubtedly have given me a fighting chance of a decent photo, but it was not to be. I settled for some "Lapwings in the evening sun" - here's one - to pass the time.
The owl did arrive but not until 16.40 when the sun had gone and the light was going after it at a pace. It flew around, Brian & Kevin took a few shots which they said were OK, and packed up and went despite me saying the owl often comes back round. So I was left alone, and sure enough within a couple of minutes the owl reappeared. The light had gone with Brian & Kevin but they had the decency to leave a little bit behind for me to try out - so I did and here are the results, not great but getting better.
Tuesday 10th - Return to Amwell
Today's idea was to have another go at the Barn Owl so a late-ish start. Arrived at about 2.30 and headed for the Bittern Pool. No Bittern again - I'm losing my touch! but a Mallard did happen by.
A short stop at the James Hide, highlight was the arrival of a Grey Heron.
20 minutes later I'm off to the main viewpoint. Nothing happening here either, walk through the woods. Another blank. To the White Hide again.
Outside there was a group of 15 Shovelers eagerly feeding about 50 yards away, a few minutes later 10 more had arrived, all dabbling like crazy. A few minutes later and there where 50 with more heading in. The feeding frenzy - a controlled frenzy - continued for a good 30 minutes, clearly there was good supply of something just below the surface and the Shovelers were going at like whatever it was, was going out of fashion.
From 15 to 50+ in a few minutes
A few waterfowl flying in and out, but mainly
several scares for the large flock of Lapwing, this time I did spot the Sparrowhawk flashing through the area and causing mayhem. Didn't see any "kills" though.
Unfortunately the Barn Owl didn't show and it was well after 5.00 when I headed home again.
I also returned on Thursday but it was a very gloomy day all day, the light was dreadful and none of the photos were worth worrying about. Again a no show by Barney - left at just after 5.00 - cold!
Rest of February news to follow at the end of the month - keep 'em peeled!