Weather: Thunderstorm initially, brightening up later. Very, very hot and humid for most of the day. Slight cloud and breeze.
Great Crested Grebe; Cormorant; Little Egret; Grey Heron; Mute Swan; Greylag Goose; Canada Goose; Mallard; Gadwall; Tufted Duck; Pochard; Moorhen; Coot; Lapwing; Green Sandpiper; Black-headed Gull; Common Tern; Woodpigeon; Stock Dove; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Green Woodpecker; Grey Wagtail; Wren (H); Dunnock (H); Robin; Blackbird; Song Thrush; Cetti's Warbler (H); Reed Warbler; Sedge Warbler; Blackcap; Chiffchaff; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Long-tailed Tit (H); Magpie; Jay; Carrion Crow; Chaffinch; Greenfinch; Goldfinch. Total: 41
Plus: Comma, Gatekeeper, Large White, Meadow Brown, Peacock, Red Admiral, Ringlet, Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood butterflies.
Plus: Azure, Banded Demoiselle, Blue-tailed, Common Blue, Red-eyed damselflies. Brown Hawker, Emperor, Four-spotted Chaser, Southern dragonflies.
Plus: Buff-tailed Bumblebee; Hoverfly; Long-jawed Orb Spider; Soldier Beetle.
It was forecast to be another humid, hot day with a distinct possibility of the odd thunderstorm in the late afternoon. But, just as I arrived at Cheshunt, the rain started and we had thunder and lightning for around 25 minutes. I had to shelter in the station for half-an-hour or more. But the storm soon moved on and I headed out, following groups of teens with maps, obviously on some sort of route march. I think they used to call it Orienteering?
I had ventured out early, on the 7.03, to try and avoid the humidity and the hot sun. I had also intended to try and locate some more Demoiselles, hopefully closer views of the females. I also wanted to see if the pair of GCGs who were sitting on eggs the last time I was here were now a family.
I had also intended to go straight to Fishers Green and not to the Hall Marsh Scrape. But I wasn't sure if there were going to be more storms so I changed plans and walked up to the Scrape, if only to shelter in the Hide. Before I got there a Grey Heron was fishing in a nearby pond, only about 10 meters away from me. I quickly got my camera out and tried to get a few shots. I was certain it would fly off as soon as it saw me but it just ignored me and carried on. It must have been very hungry for its breakfast.
I soon arrived at the Teal Hide and sat down. I immediately spotted a pair of Green Sandpipers feeding on the mudflat. Pairs of Little Egrets and Grey Herons were in stalk mode. There were 3 Lapwing out to the right in amongst a flock of Canadas. 2 more Egrets flew in, past a pair of Stock Doves sitting on one of the goalposts.
The skies had cleared and the sun was starting to shine through. I was eager to get to the GCGs so I headed off. On the trails were Brown Hawkers; Blue Damsels including at least one Azure; a Blackcap in good voice; a family of Chiffchaff flitting around the trees; a posing GCG; a singing Song Thrush; a tapping GSW; around 10 Greylags including juveniles feeding on the trail itself; a Four-spotted Chaser which posed for me; Common Terns fishing the rivers; butterflies in numbers; a Green Woodpecker fly-over; LTTs high in the trees and plenty of dog-walkers. In fact, quite a lot of people out today, no doubt taking advantage of the good weather.
At the bridge the usual Coots and Mutes were on show plus one GCG with a Humbug and plenty of ducks including Pochard. Then a Sedge Warbler posed on one of the reeds long enough for a few snaps. It was soon joined by another and they flew around the reeds chasing each other. At the Hooks Marsh car-park there were the usual array of Swans; Canadas and Greylags, all waiting to be fed. It was now starting to get very humid.
On the trail down to Fishers Green, on the relief channel, I spotted a lone Humbug swimming downriver. No adults were accompanying it. When I arrived at the nest I found it empty. No adults, no eggs and no chicks. The Humbug seemed a bit big for 2 weeks old. Whilst scanning the nest area with my Bins I spotted a couple of Red-eyed Damsels on one of the lilly-pads. Opposite the river, out on Seventy Acres lake, there were the usual suspects plus another pair of GCGs.
I reached the Bittern Hide only to find it still closed, due to vandalism. No re-opening date. So I took a seat by the feeding area and scanned the lake again. There was another GCG with a pair of chicks and at least 10 Common Terns in or around the rafts. Then I spotted a lone male Banded Demoiselle fluttering across the lake.
I soon started off down the trail to the Grebe Hide. There were more dragons, damsels and butterflies along the relief channel and I took the opportunity to check all the fishing points for my target. In between a Jay was flushed out, it didn't look too happy at me. It wasn't until the 3rd fishing point that I got my first close-up views of some male Demos as they flew by. So I decided to make myself comfortable and settle in to wait. Fortunately I didn't have to wait long, as a pair of Demos soon flew in and settled quite close. I reeled off a few dozen shots until I was fairly satisfied before moving on. 3 Canadas floated serenely by, giving me an odd look, while I took the photos.
At the Weir I flushed 1 Grey Wagtail, which was soon joined by 3 more before spotting what, at first, I thought was a hybrid Mallard/Pintail but was probably just a manky Mallard. There was also another GCG with a Humbug. 2 Grey Herons were feeding along the shoreline. Out to the right was a lone Little Egret.
Then, on the trail around to the Grebe Hide, I spotted a fluttering movement. It was a female Demo, on a leaf in the sun, quite far from any water. As I crept closer I spotted at least 2 more. All posing nicely in the sunshine. I then spent nearly an hour photographing them, when they allowed me to. They were soon joined by more, including at least one male. In fact, as my eyes got accustomed I found that this little area proved extremely fruitful as there must have been more than a dozen females around. Every step forward I took at least one female took to flight. I had never seen so many females at one time in one place. I always thought that they preferred fairly fast running water.
Further on down the trail I came across a fishing point where, to my amazement, the male equivalent was on display. Over and around the river there must have been a couple of dozen male Demos flying around, some settling on the river bank. Where I promptly sat down again and photographed any which ventured close and settled. I wanted to see some Demos today and I wasn't disappointed! Today was the best display I've ever seen.
It had taken me close on 2 hours to get to the Grebe Hide because of all the stops. Once settled in I took a cursory scan around and spotted at least 10 GCGs, one with a Humbug. And one pair had a nest not far in front of the Hide. Apart from them, out to the left it looked like Coot City; a few Canadas and the usual ducks, again including some Pochards. Then another guy came in and we had a good chat, mainly about the state of play regarding the Hides. Not only was the Bittern Hide closed due to vandalism, this Hide had most of its shutters missing.
Just as he left one of the GCGs swam up in front of the Hide and promptly caught what looked to be a Crayfish. Quite a big looking one, it took a minute or too to swallow it down. That was my cue for lunch. A few more Red-eyed Damsels were fluttering around just in front and I also noticed that, this time, the Cormorant roost was fairly quiet. They must have fledged.
I headed back, stopping off at the same areas as before, seeing much the same things. As the Bittern Hide was closed and the heat was getting to me, I decided to call it a day. And what a day it was!