Weather: Clear, blue skies. Quite cold with a stiff breeze.
Bird Total: 37
The rain finally stopped and gave us clear skies, albeit a trifle cold. So I set off for my first trip of 2014. Fishers Green was next on the list and I was eager to try and spot my first Bittern of the year.
But, despite spending over 4 hours in the Bittern Hide, I was to be disappointed. On my 2nd visit of the day I had just missed it by about 20 minutes.
Earlier I had decided, because of the recent heavy rain and the high water levels, to bypass a visit to the Hall Marsh Scrape as it probably wouldn't be much of a scrape and so headed straight for the Bittern Hide. On the way there I heard a lone Cetti's Warbler singing out.
On the train down I noticed that all the rivers and lagoons had flooded the adjacent fields, most of which were populated by Gulls and Ducks, as well as around half-a-dozen Grey Herons. Any more of this and it will affect the trains themselves.
I also spotted a few GCGs on the way to the Hide, all of which were in their winter plumage. When I arrived at the Hide I found quite a few people already there but managed to squeeze into a place. I sat here for about 2 hours and, although I didn't see any Bittern, I did see a couple of Water Rails; a distant pair of Little Grebe; another couple of Grey Herons; a dozen or so Lapwing; lots of Cormorants, some drying their wings; the usual horde of Mutes and Coots; a couple of Shoveler; another GCG, which swam up close to the Hide, before darting away as soon as we lined up our cameras on it; an LBBG catching and devouring a Crayfish with a Carrion Crow snatching away one of its legs and on the Feeders there were the usual Greats and Blues, Chaffinches and a Wren. A few LTTs also flew by, via a quick stop at the feeders.
But after 2 hours of sitting facing the sun and a biting wind coming in from the lake I decided that if a Bittern was around it wasn't in the immediate vicinity. So I headed off to the Grebe Hide, if only to get the blood circulating. On the way a friendly Robin, probably looking for a handout, posed for me. There were also a few more Little Grebes along the canal. I had a quick look over the canal to the small lagoon opposite and spotted a lone Wigeon and 3 Teal. Just past Holyfield Weir, which only yielded another Little Grebe, a couple of woodcutters were hard at work, making a awful racket, making me move quickly on.
Just before I arrived at the Grebe Hide I spotted 4 or 5 more GCGs, looking very successful at fishing. There were quite a lot of fishermen themselves about too and other people were also around the area, especially coming and going from the Hide and when I got there it was standing room only, but I again managed to squeeze myself into a seat.
From here I could see another 5 GCGs; 2 pairs of Goosanders, the first of the season; another first was a lone Fieldfare; loads of Tufties; half-a-dozen Wigeon; a few Shoveler and Pochard and loads more Coot. A couple of boats were out on the lake scaring away all the birds so I decided to head back to the Bittern Hide.
On the way back 22 Lapwing flew overhead. As I said earlier, I spent another couple of fruitless hours in the Hide, seeing much the same as before. Or not, as was the case. People were coming and going here too, all asking the same question - 'Seen a Bittern?'.
When the sun started to dip below the horizon I decided to call it a day and headed off. Just before I left the area I spooked a Muntjac close by, which bounded off in seconds.
Then I was messed about by the trains which took me an hour and a half to get home. And they had the cheek to put the fares up today!