Thursday, 6 November 2014

Fishers Green, Cheshunt - 27th October, 14

Weather: Very warm with clear skies. Slight breeze.

Birds Total: 42
Plus: Clouded Yellow, Peacock Butterflies.
Plus: Common Darter, Migrant Hawker dragonflies.

The forecast today was for bright, blue skies and so it was. In fact, it was quite warm too, reaching almost 20 degrees. Half-way through the day I had to divest myself of a layer or two. I had to double-check that it was still late October and not mid-July.

The clocks had gone back, meaning that it was now going to be darker, earlier towards the end of the day and so the days out now will be shorter. This week schools were on half-term and there were quite a few families around, taking advantage of the good weather. But, unfortunately, it also brought out the joggers; cyclists and dog-walkers. And lots of fishermen.

The highlights today were more views of the Stonechats; a lone Goldcrest and another Clouded Yellow butterfly. You see your first Goldcrest and Clouded Yellow, then more turn up immediately after. London Buses spring to mind.

Canal walk.
Anyway, nothing on the journey down. On the trail up to the Teal Hide I spooked a Common Darter, the only one I saw all day. In fact, I only saw a few Migrant Hawkers out over the lagoons. I guess their time is nearly up.

I stopped briefly to have a look out over Friday Lake, seeing 4 Great Crested Grebes; 8 Wigeon and a little Wren, which was quite close, singing out its' loud and explosive song.

View from the Teal Hide.
I sat down in the Teal Hide and looked out. At first there wasn't much about. Well, actually there wasn't anything about. But then a Canada Goose poked its' head up, followed by another one. Eventually 10 appeared. A couple of Teal swam past them on the lagoon, then I could see a Grey Heron out to the left, in amongst the reeds. A Little Egret soon appeared also out to the left, before flying past the Hide and landing out to the right. High up in the skies again to the left, behind the pylons I could see lots of Crows mobbing a Buzzard.

But then, when I looked ahead, towards the goalposts I could see a male Stonechat perched up. He was flying up every few minutes, presumably catching insects. Then, further back, he was joined by the wife. Another Birder came in and I mentioned that the Stonechats were having a good year. He cheerfully replied that so was everything else!

My Tits are magnificent!

More Teal turned up, another Grey Heron flew over, as did a few Jackdaws. I thought I spotted a Common Snipe fly in and land in amongst the reeds, but I couldn't be sure. This was when the Clouded Yellow flew by. I wasn't sure of the ID at first, but then it landed about 20 meters away where I confirmed it. Another guy had turned up and he brought a Jay and a Kestrel with him. The Kestrel hovered not too far away from us.

I decided to move on. The sun was shining down and it was starting to get quite warm. There was still a lot of foliage around and I noticed that only a few trees had shed their leaves. Apparently the Wardens had not released the cattle onto the area outside the Teal Hide due to a report of some invasive weeds and they didn't want to risk spreading it.

It was fairly quiet with not too much birdsong. In fact, there were more people than birds on the walk around to the Bittern Hide. There were, of course, quite a few GCGs on the surrounding lakes, while I heard several blasts of a Cetti's Warbler. Then I passed a family of Mute Swans, with one of the juveniles looking like it had 'Angel Wing'. Google it.

A little further I spotted a Little Grebe out on the relief channel. Then a Peacock butterfly flew by and landed on a flower, filling up on the nectar. Then another Jay flew overhead, just before I reached the Hide.

View from the Bittern Hide, including the famous feeders.
Looking out from the Bittern Hide I could see lots of birds, all the usual suspects. A few more GCGs; a few more Grey Herons, but not much else. I did note that, oddly, the only ducks I could see were Tufties. In fact I didn't see any Pochard all day and only a few Shoveler.

The feeders were doing good business, with lots of Greats and Blueys flying back and forth. A pair of Chaffinches seemed to have learnt how to balance on the spokes as well. Normally they have a few problems managing that trick. Woodpigeons and Moorhens were hoovering up the spillage. Bittern had been reported here recently but there was no sign of one today.

In the sunlight I could see lots of midges flying around, highlighted by the rays. All seemingly bouncing up and down in a kind of mating ritual.

With not much going on here I decided to have lunch and then move on to the Grebe Hide. On the walk along the relief channel I spotted another Buzzard having problems with more Crows. It had put up a few flocks over the farm, mainly pigeons; crows and jackdaws. But then a little bird flew in to my view while I was looking through the Bins. I re-focused and looked at it - it was a Goldcrest! Only my second sighting of the year. Unfortunately, it didn't hang around and flew off over the channel to the other side.

I reached Holyfield Weir, finding lots of Canadas and Greylags plus a few GCGs. The only other birds I could see were Gulls. Again, no wildfowl. I wonder where they have gone?

I reached the Grebe Hide and sat down. Outside I counted 9 GCGs, a couple of humbugs amongst them. One of which was continually begging for food. A pair of Egyptian Geese were out to the left. Everything else was either Coot; Geese; Cormorant or Gull. I did note that a few Tufted Duck were out there with a lone Shoveler.

With not much happening I took the opportunity of looking at the photos taken so far. I heard the familiar call of a Kingfisher and looked up to try and see it as it sped past but I couldn't see anything. Then I heard it again and saw it fly off. It was perched up on a little branch not six feet away from me! Doh!

Another view from the Bittern Hide.
There was more of the same on the return journey with the addition of another Kingfisher flying past when I got to the bridge. I sat back down in the Bittern Hide. More people came and went. Then a male Great Spotted Woodpecker flew in and started to lap up the fatball above the feeders. A very brave Great Tit joined it. I could see another Egyptian Goose away in the distance on the opposite bank.

It had started to get dark by now and so I headed for home. I was hoping to see a Water Rail before I left and, as I exited the Hide, I heard one squeal out. A little further on, swimming along the relief channel I spotted a pair of Little Grebes and a lone GCG swimming along together.

It was quite a good day out, especially in the sunshine. Only for it to be spoiled a little by further problems on the trains. I had rushed down to the station to make my train, only to find out that it had been cancelled!

For more of my photos please visit my Flickr site.