Thursday, 13 March 2014

Fishers Green, Cheshunt - 4th March 14

Weather: Sunny blue skies in the morning, cloudy in the afternoon.

Birds Total: 48
Plus: Muntjac; Rabbit; White-tailed Bumble Bee.

It was another pretty good day today. The sun shone brightly and warmly in the morning but unfortunately clouded over somewhat in the afternoon. But it didn't detract from what turned out to be another pretty good day.

Not too much to report on the way down, other than a cock Pheasant and a Little Egret. But just as I arrived at the car park I was greeted by a Song Thrush belting out its tuneful song.

I had a quick look over Friday Lake but could only see a pair of Great Crested Grebes. As I was standing there looking out a pair of Canada Geese and 3 Mute Swans swam over looking to be fed. Sorry guys.

On to the Teal Hide where, initially, there wasn't too much to be seen. I counted 19 Wigeon this time with 5 Teal mixed in with them, most of whom were asleep. There were only 3 Lapwing to be seen, which were the only ones I saw all day. Other than that there were the usual array of Shoveler; a lone Mute; a few Greylags and Canadas; Gulls and Coots.

But then after about 10 minutes I spotted 3 Snipe which had been flushed out by Moorhens. Just after that I spotted a male Reed Bunting flying over and then saw a Little Grebe swim noisily in to view. A Lesser Black-backed Gull then flew in and was immediately mobbed by 3 Black-headed Gulls. It ignored them and perched on one of the wooden posts. But then I also spotted a Park Ranger way out to the left who had just started up his hedge trimmer. Cue exodus of birds. So I decided to head off as there wasn't much point in hanging around now.

I started my long walk around to the Bittern Hide. One thing I have always noticed around these Reserves is the preponderance of 'Doggy Bags', all neatly tied up onto branches, all in bright, colourful plastic bags. I've always wondered why dog owners go to all the trouble of clearing up after their pets and then, instead of depositing it all into the bins provided, simply tie them onto the nearest tree. Doh!

Out on the trail GCGs seemed to be very much in evidence, with one or two popping up every 100 meters or so. Then I heard my first Chiffchaff of the year calling. In fact I heard a second one later in the afternoon. Then I spotted a Cetti's Warbler, in the same place as my last visit, only this time a little nearer. It was still camera shy. I walked on, disturbing a Grey Heron, which flew off. Then I spotted a Muntjac in the same area as my last visit. This time he posed for a bit longer, even giving me a sideways disdainful look as he munched his breakfast down. Another GCG, again in the same area as last time. Deja-vu?

Unfortunately though, the hoped-for Smew weren't to be seen in the place I saw them last time. With the sun shining down I was starting to get a sweat on and had to loosen some clothing. Would this years Spring be better than last years? It couldn't be worse, could it?

Just before I reached the Hide 2 Long-tailed Tits flew by, twittering away. When I arrived in the Hide I found only one other guy. In fact, there weren't too many people about today. Other than dog-walkers. Probably with doggy bags.

He soon left, probably because there wasn't too much about. No Bittern and not even any Lapwing. Just all the usual suspects. I settled in for a long wait. After about 15 minutes a drake Goosander arrived to my right, along the relief channel. I saw it dive and surface with a huge fish. He soon vanished only to be replaced by a GCG, who also started fishing. Then a Jay flew in, spotted me and flew back out again. Then a female Muntjac appeared just over the pond. She spotted me but, just like her hubby, ignored me and started cropping the grasses. I was quite pleased, the first female for a long time not to turn her nose up at me!

Then 2 Water Rails appeared in the channels between the reeds, giving some pretty good views. As did a pair of Cetti's Warblers and a Wren. A male Reed Bunting then flew in and debated whether to join the birds already on the feeders.

After being entertained for about 90 minutes I decided to head down to the Grebe Hide to see what was about. By now the sun had gone in and was replaced by lots of clouds. The temperature had also gone down and I zipped back up.

The trail down to the Hide provided views of a White-tailed Bumble Bee; a pair of Egyptian Geese; a guy fast asleep on one of the wooden benches; 10 more Wigeon; loads of Jackdaws perched up on trees adjacent to the farm. The Weir was again practically empty except for Coot and Pochard. Moving on I spotted a large flock of Starlings flying over. And just before arriving at the Hide 5 more GCGs could be seen.

With no one in the Hide I settled in and took a quick scan. Again not much to be seen out there other than a few pairs of GCGs. Tufties and Pochard were swimming around with the odd Coot. A pair of Little Egrets could be seen in the far corner, again in the same place as last time. But not much else.

Over the course of the next hour about half-a-dozen Grey Herons flew in from right to left, one of which buzzed a pair of Pochard. A couple of people came and went. Unfortunately, they missed a pair of Kingfishers flying past.

On the return journey I heard a couple of LTTs quite close and with them I caught a fleeting glimpse of a Treecreeper. Sleeping man had disappeared.

Back at the Bittern Hide I was just in time to see another GCG quite close to the Hide fishing. It was finally successful and surfaced with its prize. Then I spotted a Redhead Smew out on Seventy Acres Lake. The Water Rails gave me some more good views as well.

Time was getting on and the sun had completely disappeared so I decided to head home. But the excitement didn't quite end there. Just after leaving the Hide I spotted a drake and another redhead Smew. They dived under and I took the opportunity to try and get closer. But when I got down to the waters edge both birds seemed to have vanished. Moving on I heard a GSW drumming and then a Green Woodpecker laugh out.

A pretty good day!