Saturday, 1 June 2013

Fishers Green, Cheshunt - 31st May, 2013

Weather: Cloudy and overcast early on, sunny and warm later, some cloud.

Birds seen:
Great Crested Grebe; Cormorant; Grey Heron; Mute Swan; Greylag Goose; Canada Goose; Egyptian Goose; Mallard; Gadwall; Tufted Duck; Pochard; Pheasant (H); Moorhen; Coot; Black-headed Gull; Lesser Black-backed Gull; Common Tern; Woodpigeon; Collared Dove; Swift; Kingfisher (H); Great Spotted Woodpecker (H); Green Woodpecker (H); Wren (H); Dunnock; Robin; Nightingale; Blackbird; Song Thrush (H); Cetti's Warbler; Reed Warbler;  Sedge Warbler; Whitethroat; Blackcap; Chiffchaff; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Long-tailed Tit; Magpie; Jay; Carrion Crow; Chaffinch; Reed Bunting.
Total: 43

Plus: Muntjac.
Plus: Brimstone, Green-veined White; Holly Blue, Orange Tip, Peacock butterflies.
Plus: Banded Demoiselle, Blue-tailed, Common Blue, Large Red damselflies.
Plus: 14-spot Ladybird; Cardinal Beetle; Crane Fly; Mayfly; Scorpion Fly; Soldier Beetle.

Pollen. It really gets up my nose. There was masses of it again today. Only marginally more than midges and mozzies.

But that was the only slight irritants today. It started off cloudy and overcast and I took maybe one too many layers with me, as it brightened up considerably after lunch. Indeed, I was even walking up a sweat by the end of the day.

The day itself was very interesting. In an insectoid-sort of way. Finally, Spring has fully sprung, even it is the start of Summer tomorrow. Other than the midges and mozzies lots of insects were about today and I spent most of my time looking down. Hence the absence of any raptor sightings.

Banded Demoiselle
A few firsts of the season today. I was delighted to find some Banded Demoiselles around, in a couple of places. Mainly males with at least two females. But they were very skittish, only settling for a few seconds at a time. The first Blue-tailed were also about, mainly immatures. And the first ladybird too, a small 14-spot. These have been noticeable by their absence so far this year. Well, to me.

Scorpion Fly
Beetles were more in evidence today as well. More Cardinals and the first Soldier Beetle of the season. More Scorpion Flies, one even managing to capture a small damselfly. And I witnessed my second Mayfly explosion in a week, most of them doing their up-and-down mating dance. I've heard that Mayflies mainly fly at night, so I count myself extremely lucky to have seen their display twice this year.

Cardinal Beetle
On the mammal front there was only one female Muntjac seen, early in the day when I was visiting Hall Marsh Scrape. That was where I had started my day, but, unfortunately, there wasn't much about there. I spent about 40 minutes scanning the area but there were only BHGs; a couple of Canadas; a lone Greylag; Mallards; a few Gadwall; Pigeons and Crows. Another guy entered the Hide not long after I had and was suitably unimpressed.

I moved around the trail all the way to the Bittern Hide. The one thing of note on the way was a pair of GCGs with a lone humbug. At the Hide I found a couple of people already there. From here we were entertained by lots of Reed Warblers, either perched high up on the reeds singing or flying around in pairs. A lone Sedgie appeared briefly and there were visits by pairs of Coots; Canada Geese and Mallards - all with chicks. A Jay visited the feeders, possibly the same one seen on earlier visits. It was summarily despatched several times by a Magpie. Reed Buntings were flitting around the Reeds as well, at times chased off by the odd Reed Warbler.

On the way around to the Grebe Hide I kept a lookout for more Demoiselles and was again rewarded by a couple of sightings. Over the relief channel there were a pair of Egyptian Geese with chicks and, as I was looking at them through my Bins, another pair flashed past. And, whilst looking for damsels, I heard a Kingfisher; GSW and Green Woodpecker. A Song Thrush was belting out its tuneful, repetitive song and a Blackcap and a Whitethroat were seen.

At the Hide I spotted several more GCGs, one of which swam up close whilst fishing. It took one look at me and swam off. There wasn't anything else of note here and, after a quick lunch, I headed back. There was lots of birdsong along the route as I hunted for interesting insects to try and photograph. On the way I heard, but did not see, a Nightingale.

As I walked around the area I noted two things. In the month since my last visit it was very noticeably luxuriant with plant growth. And it was also noticeable that the bird totals were down so far this year. Even birds like Coot and Geese were low in number. Are they concentrating on broods?

But not so with the great unwashed. It was a school holiday so lots of families were about as well as the usual sprinkling of cyclists; dog-walkers and joggers. But curiously only around the picnic areas, the trails left to birders and fishermen.
Large Red damselflies
Orange Tip
It was a quick second visit to the Bittern Hide, just to catch my breath. Again the Warblers put on another great show. Around 4.30-ish I decided to take a walk around the Orchid Discovery Trail. With everything around 3 weeks late this year I was hoping to see a few orchids in the area. But when I got there I discovered that it was orchid-less! Disappointing.

So that was it, I headed off home. But not before I heard a guy shout out 'Watch my rod!'. As I turned the corner I breathed a sigh of relief as it turned out to be a couple of fishermen!