Saturday, 9 August 2014

Fishers Green, Cheshunt - 14th July, 14

Weather: Coolish start, hotting up later. Cool breeze.

Birds Total: 44
Plus: Comma, Gatekeeper, Green-veined White, Large Skipper, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral, Ringlet, Small Skipper, Small White Butterflies. Moths.
Plus: 7-spot Ladybird; Hoverflies; Midges; Red-tailed Bumble Bee; Soldier Beetle; Thick-kneed Flower Beetle.
Plus: Banded Demoiselle, Blue-tailed, Common Blue, Red-eyed Damselflies; Brown Hawker, Common Darter, Southern Hawker, Emperor dragonflies.

Another warm day was forecast today, but with the threat of lots of clouds from late morning. Which is why I arrived at the Reserve around 7.30. In the event it was very sunny and warm all day.

The train was predictably packed and so I didn't see much on the way down. On the way to the Teal Hide, looking out over Friday Lake I spooked a Grey Heron, which was fishing only a few feet away from me. I should've gone to SpecSavers!

Hoverfly Xanthogramma pedissequum
When I arrived at the Hide I could see that it was very, very overgrown and I feared that I wouldn't be able to see anything at all. But within minutes I spotted a lone Lapwing and a lone Common Sandpiper, both picking around the edges of the Scrape. BHGs were flying over and there was an aggressive Moorhen trying to chase off everything, including a lone Greylag Goose. A Song Thrush could be heard singing out to the right.

The sun was shining directly into my face and it was quite warm already. Meadow Brown butterflies were taking advantage and were flying around in front of the Hide. Then an immature Common Darter flew up close and landed on a tall stem just in front of me.

A rather tatty looking Large Skipper.
Just outside the Hide there were several Common Blue damselflies fluttering around; a couple of Wrens darting around the log-pile and a Tit flock hopping from branch to branch through the trees over the trail. There were several dozen Soldier Beetles patrolling the flowers. A man and his dog turned up and he mentioned that he had seen an Owl around the area. When I asked him where and what time, he said, 'Oh, a couple of years ago now.'

I stopped off at the standing viewpoint and I could see, eventually, 4 Little Egrets and a pair of Grey Herons fishing around the shrinking lagoon. Both the Lapwing and the Common Sandpiper then took to the air for some reason, with the Lapwing landing back down soon after. But the Sandpiper flew off towards the south. An Emperor dragonfly was patrolling up and down the stream.

A couple of Sedge Warblers were chasing each other around the bushes as I walked by, completely oblivious to me. Wrens and Dunnocks were flitting about as well while a Greenfinch was sounding off somewhere in the undergrowth.

Then I spotted the first Great Crested Grebes of the day on one of the lagoons, a family of 6. A pair of Common Terns flew over uttering their harsh calls. A lone Goldfinch then flew by, bubbling away. But, other than that, it was strangely quiet. There weren't even very many people about, just the usual dog-walkers.

Further on up the trail I heard a few Whitethroats singing; a few Blue-tailed Damselflies and then the first of two Thick-kneed Flower Beetles crawling all over a flower. The sun was now getting even warmer and I started looking for any shade that I could find for some relief.

More GCG families were seen just as I walked over the bridge. The Humbugs were now growing into juveniles. Then a Swallow flew over, but strangely just the one. I moved on, past the feeding area by Hooks Marsh Lake, where there were the usual geese and mutes swimming about, patiently waiting for handouts. Just before I reached the Bittern Hide another family of GCGs swam by, this time with 4 humbugs. Then a cute little juvenile Robin appeared and proceeded to hop towards me.

Looking out from the Hide, around the lake, I could see at least 25+ Common Tern, mainly on the rafts, with chicks, amongst the BHGs and their chicks. Or rather, their juveniles. Other than the Terns only the usual Mutes and Coots; Gulls and Geese could be seen, all idly milling about.


The feeders to my left were being visited by juvenile Great Tits and the spillage was being picked up by a Moorhen family and a pair of Magpies. Then a pair of Jays flew past from right to left and landed in the tree, looking to emulate the Magpies. While on the pond in front were a family of Coot, weaving their way through all the green weed that had covered it. The reeds in front were surprisingly devoid of Warblers and Buntings.

Then a male Great Spotted Woodpecker flew in and tried his luck on the feeders. One of the Jays, on the ground at the time, was spooked off. Then a GCG suddenly announced itself by appearing right in front of the Hide. But it dived down below the surface, never to be seen again. Not long after Reed Warblers finally started to appear, dodging around the reeds. Only two other people visited the Hide while I was there.

I decided to head off to the Grebe Hide. Along the trail there were plenty of butterflies to be seen, Meadow Browns, Red Admirals and Skippers were amongst the vanguard. All fluttering busily around, some settling, some not.

The sun was really beating down now. I also noticed that there was an above average amount of dog-walkers and cyclists along this particular part of the reserve, sometimes both together, with the odd sprinkling of joggers. Mad dogs and Englishmen!

I started checking out the fishing spots along the trail. I'm almost certain I spotted my first Migrant Hawker of the season at one of them, but I couldn't be certain. It could equally have been a Southern Hawker. There was also a lone male Banded Demoiselle there as well, which was nice.

A Jay flew over me, crossing the relief channel. Chiffchaff and Blackcap were singing out. Several Jackdaws also flew by. I could then hear a Green Woodpecker, somewhere over the channel, in the trees. It was starting to get even hotter and hotter. I was glad of the sun-cream, but I still kept my shirt collar up.

More and more butterflies flew around, Gatekeepers and Ringlets now joining in. I spotted several more Demos on the way to the Grebe Hide but nothing like the numbers of last season.

I finally made it to the Grebe Hide and looked out. I could see at least 20 GCGs swimming around, most with noisy humbugs or juveniles, all begging to be fed. Several Pochard were around as were a pair of fishing Common Tern. The Terns were busy but the Pochard were having a siesta. I couldn't say I blamed them in this heat. Red-eyed Damsels were just in front of the Hide, amongst dozens of Common Blues. Most of them were busily flying around, interacting.

Then a Grey Heron flew in and landed on top of the GCG nest. A noisy set-to between the Heron and the adult Grebes began. But the Heron ignored them and flew off a few minutes later, in pursuit of a second Heron that had appeared.

Then I noticed an odd thing. A pair of juvenile GCGs started doing the head-shaking thing. I guess they were practicing for the future, but it was something that I had never witnessed before.

On the trail back I could see and hear Blackcap; Chiffchaff and then I spotted another 2 Demos. Brown Hawkers were everywhere today and I nearly got a photo of one of them. But they were so quick they just seemed to vanish into thin air. Either that or my eyesight is getting worse.

Then I heard, then saw, a Song Thrush, just on the other side of the river, atop a large bush, singing away.

There wasn't much else to report. The return leg, via the Bittern Hide, produced much the same thing. After an hour in the Hide, more to get my breath back, I headed home. The humidity really takes it out of me.

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