Weather: Sunny and warm all day. Slight breeze.
Birds Total: 41
Plus: Grey Squirrel; Muntjac; Red-eared Terrapin; various Bees. Midges.
Plus: Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies.
It was another lovely sunny day again today. The prolonged high pressure system above the country hung around happily for another day.
The visit started slowly and quietly but gradually built up over the day. From the Teal Hide looking out over Hall Marsh Scrape the only things of note was a lone Lapwing and a Little Egret. A Grey Heron flew over, landing briefly. I could hear the drumming of a Great Spotted Woodpecker. A couple of Buzzards could be seen high in the sky, quite far away.
It was only just past ten in the morning but there was already a heat haze. Chiffchaffs and Cetti's Warblers were singing away, seemingly everywhere around me. I could see a pair of Muntjac by the fence-line from the standing Hide. A Song Thrush was singing out. It's amazing what a little bit of sunshine can do!
Starting on the trail the first pair of Great Crested Grebes turned up. I just missed a shot of one swallowing a fish. A quick look out over Friday Lake provided just one more GCG and a pair of Coots. It was fairly quiet so far. Another Chiffchaff sang out and then I spotted it in the trees. But it stayed high up, flying from branch to branch.
Then I spotted my first butterfly of the day, a Green-veined White. I was about to follow it to see if it would settle when I heard some commotion going on behind me, involving 3 Greylag Geese, which went on for a few minutes. The first of many Orange Tip and Peacock butterflies flew past as I carried on.
When I reached the Hooks Marsh car-park a Jay was seen flying over. On the walk upto the Bittern Hide, along the relief channel another GCG could be seen, swimming past a Coot on a nest. Then I spotted a Red-eared Terrapin sunning itself atop a dead log in the middle of the channel. This was the first time I had seen one of these in the Lee Valley. Also known as a Red-eared Slider, it is the most commonest pet turtle in the world. But because of releases or escapes it has become an invasive species in many areas, where it out-competes native species. In short, bad news.
I spent about an hour or so in the Bittern Hide. A few people came and went. One woman with two small children came in. One of the children asked what birds were outside. Her mother, with a perfectly straight face, replied 'There are 2 types of bird here, one type is black while the other isn't.' I had to bite my hand.
It was another slow start but soon picked up. Out over the Lake I could see an Egyptian Goose. A Small Tortoiseshell butterfly fluttered by. A female Reed Bunting flew in and posed on the reeds. A little later a Grey Heron flew in to one of the reed channels. Then a female Mallard swam in with 11 little ducklings in tow. Cute. Then 2 more Muntjac turned up on the other side of the pond to the right. And, just before I left, I heard, then spotted 2 Oystercatchers flying a couple of circuits around the Lake before heading off.
I then headed off to the trail for the Grebe Hide. At the bridge another GCG swam in close for a few shots, although it kept a wary red eye on me. Then another birder I had met before walked part of the way, to the Weir, with me. On the walk up there were more butterfly sightings and while a pair of Jays flew noisily over us. Lots of Jackdaws flew overhead, while on the lagoon across the relief channel I could see at least 3 Teal.
Just before reaching the Hide I had to negotiate a large fallen tree across the trail. Some Park Rangers were about to attempt to remove it. Best of luck, I thought.
It was again fairly quiet looking out over Holyfield Lake from the Grebe Hide. The main reason being there were people floating around the lake in dinghies and yachts, moving all the birds around the lake on a regular basis. Ignoring them I did in fact count nearly 20 GCGs out there, mainly in pairs, with at least one pair in courtship dancing mode. All the usual suspects were in evidence around the area. Just before I left a Grey Heron flew past, mobbed by BHGs and then a Green Woodpecker sounded off.
Outside the Hide, on the return journey, I spotted a male Blackcap. Then I thought I spotted what looked like a pair of May-flys flutter past. A bit early? Lots of Pollen was already floating about too, so maybe.....
Just past the Weir another Jay flew past and landed on the tree. It flew off before I could get closer. There was a screech of a Pheasant somewhere in the distance. And just before I reached the bridge I spotted another Blackcap, this time a lovely female.
I spent another hour in the Bittern Hide. The Mallard ducklings re-appeared several times, delighting everyone in the Hide. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew in and landed on the tree to the left of the Hide. It was starting to get really hot now, especially in the Hide. I was down to shirtsleeves. Another Cetti's Warbler flew in and teased me by flying in and around the reeds. Then one of the Oystercatchers could be seen on the island over the lake.
I decided to call it a day and headed back. On the trail I spotted yet another Jay fly over. And at Hooks Marsh car-park there were 3 sets of Greylag Geese families, again delighting all the human families present.
Another great day!
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