Saturday, 20 September 2014

Fishers Green, Cheshunt - 18th September, 14

Weather: Very warm and humid. Cloudy with a slight cooling breeze.

Birds Total: 45
Plus: Comma, Large Skipper, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood Butterflies. Red Chestnut Moth.
Plus: Bees; Crane Fly; Dock Bug; Green Shield Bug; Hoverflies; Midges; Pond Skaters; Spiders; Wasps.
Plus: Banded Demoiselle, Common Blue Damselflies; Brown Hawker, Common Darter, Migrant Hawker dragonflies.
Plus: Grey Squirrel; Muntjac.

Its been a long while since I visited the Fishers Green area, owing to one thing and another. So I was determined to get down there today. The weather was forecasting sunny spells, interspersed with clouds, especially around midday. Indeed it was supposed to be foggy early on. So I didn't head down there until around 11.

View over Seventy Acres Lake.
But I found the day to be very sunny, very hot and very humid with the temperature reaching around 25 degrees. There was a mercifully cool breeze blowing but it was especially hot and humid in the Hides, especially the Bittern Hide.

My day's birding started while I was sitting waiting for the train. Chiffchaff could be heard all around the area, while a couple of Buzzards floated by overhead. And looking out from the train the usual Grey Heron had moved further down from its' original area. But it was more than likely a different one.

I had a quick look out over Friday Lake, which afforded me views of a pair of Wigeon and a family of four Great Crested Grebes. Then I arrived at the path leading upto the Teal Hide. But just opposite I found a variety of things, including a Common Darter; a few Common Blue damsels; a moth that I think was a Red Chestnut and a pair of Green Shield Bugs. But the stars were a pair of Orb spiders that had ensnared a Crane Fly. I watched, fascinated, as the the fly tried to escape by flapping its wings. The female spider held on to it and was then joined by the male. Between them they managed to subdue the poor fly.

Looking out over the scrape I could see a pair of Little Egrets foraging about; over 20 Lapwing and 4 Teal. Then a Sparrowhawk flew past from left to right and landed in the far trees. Then my bird of the day turned up - a male Stonechat, perched up on one of the wooden fences. Every now and then
he darted down for a quick snack, bringing it back to his starting position. It was too distant for a photo unfortunately but I was delighted to see one, a first this year.

View from the Teal Hide.
There was a Reserve Warden working out to the right and he eventually drove in a bit closer, scaring up a Grey Heron. A Pied Wagtail flew overhead. A couple of people came and went from the Hide, one of which complaining that there wasn't much about!

The Warden eventually started clearing up the rubbish in front of the Hide so I decided to head off. A few Meadow Browns and Speckled Woods were flying around, but strangely, there were very few species of butterfly about today. I did see plenty of Pond Skaters.

I could hear a Buzzard above me and looked up to see it using the thermals to get higher and higher and it eventually flew off, heading south. I was still looking out over the Scrape, from the standing hide and Warden eventually scared up around 6 Common Snipe, which flew off towards Seventy Acres Lake.

Chiffchaffs were singing around me but my eyes were pointed downwards, eventually finding a pair of Dock Bugs. Then, just at a clearing, looking out over Hooks Marsh Lake, I spotted a Migrant Hawker perched up, a few feet away from me. I managed to fire off one shot and then knelt down to get a shot at eye level. But then a mad cyclist raced past, scaring it up and away.

In fact, there were quite a lot of cyclists on the trail today. As well as lots of dog-walkers and a few joggers. Some even doubled up as cyclists walking their dogs. There was even one jogger being pulled along by his dog. I moved on.

I then spotted a bird flying across the water, landing at the foot of some reeds by the path. At first I thought it was just a Moorhen, but, looking through my Bins, I could see that it was a Water Rail. Unfortunately a dog-walker went past and scared it into the reeds before I could get closer.

There were a few Coot and Tufted Duck idling around out on the lake plus a pair of sleepy Shoveler. Another Grey Heron flew overhead, squawking away. Then a Great Spotted Woodpecker could be heard calling, before flying across the lake to another tree.

More Migrant Hawkers appeared, patrolling along the trail, as did more Common Blue damsels. At one spot I witnessed a Common Blue chase off a Migrant. The clouds had started to thicken above me and it started to warm up considerably, the humidity factor rising. A Cetti's Warbler sounded off, one of two heard today.

I eventually reached the Bridge where I could see another 4 GCGs, all starting to moult into their winter plumage. At the Hooks Marsh feeding area there were only 3 geese waiting for handouts, one of which was a Greylag. I entered the path leading to Fishers Green and the Bittern Hide.

On the way more Migrant Hawkers appeared and then I spotted another Common Darter, its worn looking colour making it look like an older individual. There were more Common Blues along here as well, including a mating pair.

I reached the feeding area where I could see lots of people wandering around and with lots of birds queuing up, waiting to be fed. A family were throwing white bread out to the birds, who were gobbling them all up in a frenzy of flapping and quacking. I hoped that none of the birds were

View from the Bittern Hide.
When I entered the Bittern Hide there were a couple of people already in situ. It was oppressively hot in there and I soon opened up the rest of the flaps. Outside the Hide there were the usual Tits on the feeders but this time accompanied by 3 male Chaffinches, the first I had seen for quite a while. They were joined by a female later on. A family of Moorhen were below the feeders, hoovering up the spillage. One of them was a tiny chick, being fed by a parent. A Jay flew over, while a Wren could be seen flitting around the bottom of the reeds, on the edge of the water, on the lookout for any unfortunate insects.

I rested here for about 30 minutes before the humidity forced me to move on. At the start of the trail down to the Grebe Hide I flushed out a Green Woodpecker, which flew off over the river, screeching its annoyance at having to move. There were about 9 or 10 fishermen's platforms along here and I tried to visit each one, to see if any Emerald damsels were here, after seeing them around the same time last year. I secretly hoped that I might see a Willow Emerald too.

View of Holyfield Weir.
But the only odonata I saw were more Migrants and Common Blues. Further on up the trail a Grey Squirrel hopped across the path in front of me and dramatically dived in to the bushes. Jackdaws could be heard flying overhead, heading towards the distant farm, their favourite haunt.

I then found myself at Holyfield Weir where, finally, there were plenty of birds on show. Predominantly Canada Geese but with plenty of Coot and Gulls. More GCGs were swimming around but then I saw 3 Grey Wagtails fly past. One of them landed just below me but immediately flew off before I could bring the camera to bear. I could see it further along the Weir, wagging its' tail as it went.

Moving on I could hear another GSW sounding off. Then another Chiffchaff, singing out its' one-note call. Out on another lake I could see a female Pochard, the first of several seen today. She kept a wary on me as I walked past.

I stopped at one of the fishermen's platforms along this part of the area, with a blue number 5 marked on it and was surprised and delighted to see my only Banded Demoiselle of the day, resting on a leaf over the stream. I tried to get closer but she was having none of it and flew further along the river. I sat down and waited patiently for her to return as the sun was casting shadows near to where she was resting. Every few minutes she flew up and caught and ate a midge. Then she flew a bit closer, finally allowing a few shots. While I was waiting for her a Mayfly flew idly past, moving up and down as it went. Just the one.

View from the Grebe Hide.
I sat down in the Grebe Hide and looked out. About half-a-dozen Mute Swans were busy feeding right in front of the Hide, dipping their heads down into the deep. There were quite a lot of birds out on the lake, mainly towards the left hand side. Most of them were Tufties and Coots. But there were about a dozen Wigeon and a few more Pochard and Shoveler in amongst them. The GCG count here was around 10, with a few noisy juveniles.

A Cormorant swam in close, before being startled at seeing my face gurning out at it and swam off. An Egyptian Goose swam past and disappeared behind the large island. Two Greylags were in the middle of around a dozen Canadas. Another Grey Heron was perched in the trees in the distance. Time for lunch.

It was time for the return route but the only extra things to add to the list were a female Muntjac feeding on the other side of the river and I was just in time to hear and see a Green Sandpiper sound off and then fly off towards the south from the Bittern Hide. A Comma butterfly then flew in and alighted just in front of me. It was still hot and humid in the Hide.

I headed off for home around 7. Another very good visit.

The End!
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