Friday, 2 August 2013

Fishers Green, Cheshunt - 1st August, 2013

Weather: Very, very hot and humid all day. Mercifully cool breeze.

Birds Total: 36
Plus: Brimstone, Comma, Gatekeeper, Green-veined White, Holly Blue, Large White, Meadow Brown, Peacock, Red Admiral, Ringlet, Speckled Wood butterflies.
Plus: Banded Demoiselle, Blue-tailed, Common Blue damselflies. Brown Hawker, Migrant Hawker dragonflies.
Plus: 7-spot Ladybird; Longhorn Beetle; Musk Beetle; Soldier Beetle.

Another early start, another hot and humid day. In fact, it was the hottest day of the year so far. Yeah, another scorchio.

Today I restricted myself to finding and photographing the Banded Demoiselles I had seen on my last visit here. The birds were all still on heads-down mode and invisible, apart from the wildfowl.

I again headed to the Teal Hide first. Looking out over the Hall Marsh Scrape there were 4 Little Egrets, 4 Lapwing; a Green Woodpecker and a few Coot; Tufties and Gadwall. The sun was already high in the sky and was very hot, even at 8am.

View from the Teal Hide
I spent about 30 minutes here before moving on. Then, lo and behold, I spotted a pair of Banded Demoiselles, on the trail just outside the Hide. They were perched close up and I had my back to the sun, great for photos. Target achieved in the first hour! It vindicated my decision to head down here instead of trying to chase a Black-tailed Godwit that had been seen at Amwell yesterday.

Pressure off and with a big smile on my face I headed off down the trail to see if there were any bonuses to be had for the rest of the day. Along the trail were numerous butterflies - I saw 11 species today, notably a Brimstone and a Holly Blue; loads of Damsels, lots of Dragons; Common Terns fishing the streams; GSWs sounding off all around me; Goldfinches were in the trees, making their familiar popping sounds.

More Demos were seen along the way, mainly the females, one of which settled for a photo-shoot opportunity. Unfortunately the Wind God decided to assert his dominance and blew the reeds all over the place, disturbing the female, which then flew further away.

This particular part of the trail is a favourite for dog-walkers, with the evidence everywhere. So it was quite difficult to kneel down and steady myself when a photo opportunity presented itself. It was minor miracle that I avoided all the mess. One particular chap passed me by, accompanied by no less than 6 dogs, the smallest of which proving to be the noisiest. Thankfully there weren't that many birds around to be scared off. I was also concentrating on finding any insects that happened to be feeding on the flowers. I was rewarded by spotting a Longhorn Beetle, with its' escort of Soldier Beetles. There was also a 7-spot Ladybird, but only the one.

I eventually arrived at the bridge and from here I could see 2 sets of GCGs, both with juvenile humbugs. There were a lot of Mutes and Coots about, plus Tufties; Gadwall and Pochard. Canadas and Greylags were also in evidence here, honking away.

There were quite a few people about, especially around Hooks Marsh car-park. Mainly dog-walkers. But with some cyclists and joggers mixed in. Entering the trail towards Fishers Green I immediately spotted more Demos. It was along this trail and the trail towards the Grebe Hide later on that I noticed that the flies were being especially annoying today. I would have liked to have taken my time along the trails but the flies put paid to that idea, forcing me to walk quicker to escape them. If it wasn't pollen attacking my nose, it was flies attacking my ears. I must remember the insect repellent next time. Do they do pollen repellent?

View from the Bittern Hide
I finally arrived at the lookout point over Seventy Acres lake and decided to check to see if the Bittern Hide was open. I had checked the previous evening on the LVRP website which said that it was closed until further notice. But I was happily surprised to see it open for business. Nobody inside but I did notice that they had installed CCTV. I made myself comfortable and looked to see what was about. In the immediate vicinity the whole area was now covered in reed-bed, with no channels to be seen. The feeders were empty. A couple of Gadwall were preening and there was a burst of Reed Warbler activity every now and then. Out over the lake the usual BHGs were making their usual cacophony; Common Terns were all perched together on the rafts; a few GCGs were escorting their young around; lots more Mutes and Canadas were lazily swimming around asserting their dominance to all and sundry. Then a lovely Brown Hawker flew in and landed.

Soon I found myself heading down the trail to the Grebe Hide, accompanied by more flies. A few birds were in evidence around here, notably Blackcap and Common Tern. On one of the fishermen's points I saw my first Migrant Hawker, which promptly settled for a quick photo. I only visited a few points because I was keen to try and get to the areas where I had seen the Demos.

A quick stop at Holyfield Weir to see loads of Canadas; Greylags; Coots and various ducks. There was also another GCG with 4 more humbugs. But the flies were eager to move me on and I eventually arrived at the spot where I had seen all the female Demos.

I soon found 3 or 4 of them perched up in the sunshine, together with a couple of males. They were all taking off and catching the midges that were also about, before landing back onto the same perch to eat them. It was quite fascinating to watch their behaviour. Then I remembered why I was here and divested myself of rucksack; bins and baseball cap. I must have spent nearly an hour here trying to capture them on camera. The sun was again a little bit too harsh but I tried various settings.

I then moved on to the area where the males had been congregating. Sure enough, although there weren't as many as before, they were perched up on the reeds just in front of me. So I settled down again and spent another 45 minutes or so here. Bliss.

My stomach then suggested I move on to the Grebe Hide. A quick cursory view from here rewarded me with about a dozen GCGs, together with a few humbugs. A lot of wildfowl were all squeezed together out to the left of the Hide and, looking out to the right, I saw the reason - a couple of Wind-Surfers were out and about. Then, during lunch, I managed to photograph a Musk Beetle which had just flown in. This was only my second ever sighting. The first one was electric green, while this fella seemed to be more bronzed in comparison.

I made my way back the way I had come, seeing pretty much the same thing, with the addition of a Little Egret from the Bittern Hide. The heat and humidity had again got to me and so I headed for home. Another very good day out.