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Amwell Quarry Nature Reserve, Esher Rugby Club & Hersham

22 -23 January 2005

Observers: Lezah Ketchen & F. Simpson

Highlights: Smew, Little Egret, Water Rail, Common Buzzard, Ring-necked Parakeet (5700), Egyptian Goose, & Stonechat.


Saturday 22 January 2005
Amwell Quarry Nature Reserve, Lee Valley Country Park, Hertfordshire
Blue sky, later clouding over, cold northerly wind.

Train from London Liverpool Street to Hertford East, alighting at St. Margarets (c40 minutes). Short walk of around a mile along the River Lee to the gravel pit nature reserve

Male Reed Bunting almost back in full breeding plumage. Great Spotted Woodpecker (f). Song Thrush and Great Tit singing. Also Mute Swan, Coot, Mallard, Moorhen, Wren, Robin, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Redwing, Blackbird, Magpie, and Black-headed Gull. 

Four Smew (2 males & 2 redheads) present but elusive at times, keeping close to emergent and overhanging vegetation on the far bank and around the islands. Great Crested Grebes displaying. Goldeneye (6). Lapwings (225) feeding on the muddy shoreline and islands in front of the watchpoint at the north end. Water Rail calling. Grey Herons nest builiding in trees on the islands. Grey Wagtail flew overhead. Large numbers of duck present, mainly Gadwall, Shoveler, Pochard and Tufted Duck. Small numbers of Mallard, Teal, and Wigeon. Meadow Pipit (2) overhead. Also Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Canada Goose, Coot and Moorhen.

Water Rails (2) showing well in the pool in between the reedbed and the hide. Great Tit, Blue Tit and Dunnock at the feeding station.

Long-tailed Tit, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Wood Pigeon, Redwing, Dunnock, Robin and Wren noted.

Large gull roost forming in the last hour and a half before dusk with birds arriving from the northeast. Yellow-legged Gull (1), Herring Gull (including Scandinavian race argentatus), Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Gull and Black-headed Gull. Little Egrets (6) roosted deep in the island at the south end after arriving in two groups of three between 1640 and 1652h. A buck Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) creeping through the reedbed to the water's edge.

Smew (Mergellus albellus) Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)


Sunday 23 January 2005
River Ember & Esher Rugby Club, Surrey
Overnight sprinkling of snow, partly cloudy, clearing to blue sky, cold northerly wind.

The reason for this trip was to experience the famous Ring-necked (or Rose-ringed) Parakeet roost at Esher Rugby Club - one of the most spectacular avian experiences in the British Isles. Recent counts of winter roosts have revealled over 7000 birds! Took a Woking train from Waterloo Station. Engineering works meant a change at Surbiton for a replacement bus service to Hersham. Alighted at Hersham (TQ 122654). Walked through the golf course to the the River Ember (TQ 130657) and along the bank towards Island Barn Reservoir, around Molesey Heath then down Fieldcommon Lane and Molesey Road to Esher Rugby Club.

Golf Course (TQ 125650)
Egyptian Goose (4) and Canada Goose (12) grazing on a fairway. Ring-necked Parakeets heard calling in the distance. Long-tailed Tit, Redwing, Collared Dove, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, and Blackbird also noted.

Woodland, river and fields around (TQ 130660)
Tufted Duck (21), Little Grebe (2), Mallard (2), Coot (2), Moorhen (1), Kestrel, Goldcrest, Green Woodpecker, Black-headed Gull, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Redwing, Greenfinch, Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon and Feral Pigeon. Kingfisher observed several times along the loop of the river running along the back of the industrial estate at Lower Green (TQ 131658).

Footpath to West Molesey via Molesey Heath (TQ 131674)
Stonechat in rough grassland by the river. Two Ring-necked Parakeets overhead. Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming. Little Grebe (9), Gadwall (3), Teal (2), Fieldfare (29), Stock Dove (2), Green Woodpecker (2), Kestrel, Jackdaw, Collared Dove, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Mute Swan, Coot, Moorhen, Black-headed Gull, Mistle Thrush, Magpie, Robin, Pied Wagtail, Starling, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Wren, Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Mallard, Greenfinch, and Feral Pigeon.

Fieldcommon Road
House Sparrow (50+), Starling (30+), Long-tailed Tit (8), Grey Wagtail (o/h), Dunnock, Greenfinch and Goldfinch.

Molesy Road & Esher Rugby Club grounds (TQ 122659)
Small groups of Ring-necked Parakeets arriving from the north over Queen Elizabeth 2 Storage Reservoir.
c50 parakeets flying around the north playing field, regularly landing on the pitch.
c200 present.
c300 present.
1630h: Within the next 30 minutes hundreds arrived with the pitch and surrounding hedgerow full of calling birds.
1645h: A large Amazona-like parrot arrived with a dozen parakeets in the poplar tree we were standing by. Probably a Mealy Parrot but difficult to see plumage characteristics on the head. Red shoulder patch and red patch visible on the closed primaries. Its loud, deep call was distinctive at close range even among the almost deafening rabble of parakeet squaks and shrieks.
1720: Before we departed after dark I estimated 5700 birds to be present in 38 of the 63 poplar trees in the rugby club grounds. The clear blue sky, colourful sunset and full moon added to the already spectacular visual and aural scene.

Ring-necked Parakeets (Psittacula krameri) Ring-necked Parakeet at Esher Rugby Club


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