Tuesday, 30 December 2014

A Cold, Crisp Day at Fishers Green!

Fishers Green, Cheshunt - 10th December, 14

Weather: Bright, sunny, clear skies. Cold wind.

Bird Total: 43

Plus: Fox; Grey Squirrel; Muntjac.

It was a lovely, sunny day. Clear skies with a cold, biting wind. But I had my secret weapon on today, a lovely warm scarf.

There was nothing much to be seen until I arrived at Friday Lake. Looking out I could see about 4 or 5 Great Crested Grebes swimming around; a lone female Pochard and the usual Gulls; Coot and ducks.

View from the Teal Hide.
I sat down in the Teal Hide and looked out. To my surprise there were 5 Little Egrets standing just to the side of one of the goal-posts. Not doing very much, looking like a mini-roost. About half-a-dozen Shoveler were asleep out to the left; a pair of Teal to the right; a few Gadwall milling around, seemingly aimlessly and a few Black-headed Gulls. Nothing else could be seen.

But, then, a dozen Lapwing flew over, most of them peewitting. Disappointingly, they didn't stop and flew on. A 6th Little Egret then arrived and landed with the others. One by one, they all started to preen. It was as if they were trying to out-preen each other. There was the distinctive cry of a Water Rail out amongst the reeds, but I couldn't locate it.

Outside, I disturbed a pair of Grey Squirrels, who both quickly scampered up the nearest tree. They both eyed me warily as I walked past.

I took another quick look out over Friday Lake, seeing a total of 8 GCGs now. A very noisy Greylag Goose flew over. Then I was suddenly surrounded by a large group of elderly people or crumblies as I call them, all chattering away as they went by, fortunately in the opposite direction.

Unusually, there wasn't much to be seen on the trail to the bridge. The skies were still clear of cloud, there was a slight cold wind and it was 'crisp' out there. The sun took every opportunity to shine right in to my eyes. There were only the usual birds about. Maybe the reason was the large amount of dog-walkers about. Curmudgeonly? Me? Nah!

Standing on the bridge looking out over both sides brought the GCG count up to 16. But I didn't hang around as the wind up here was quite strong. Even for my magic scarf.

Out over Seventy Acres Lake there were at least 70+ Lapwing on the far island. I could also see at least 4 Grey Herons trying to blend in with the reeds. Various other wildfowl were swimming about but not in any great number.

View from the Bittern Hide.
I made it to the Bittern Hide and sat down. A few people were already there. Unfortunately no sign of Billy the Bittern, although a pair of them have been seen here recently. But we were entertained by a few Water Rails, wandering around and a lone GCG who was having a very successful time fishing, bringing up lots of fish to the surface, before swallowing them all down. There was also a few Coot, one of which was also quite successful in the fishing stakes.

I started on down the trail towards the Grebe Hide. Just as I entered the trail I spotted a male Muntjac with his back to me. I crept up quietly and slowly and managed to get to within 10 feet of him, before he turned around and saw me. I froze and saw that he didn't know what to make of me. I wanted to bring the camera to bear but I knew that if I did that he would bolt. In the event, he fed a little more for a few seconds, before again looking up at me and then decided to head off. I didn't get a photo but it was exhilarating to be so close.

Further on up the trail a lone Fieldfare flew in and landed on one of the trees beside the relief channel. But it was too obscured by branches for any decent shot. More Grey Squirrels could be seen, again all scampering away. Then a hen Pheasant scurried past me from right to left and disappeared into the bushes. More Thrushes could be seen flying about the area.

I stopped and looked over the channel to the lagoon. Seeing nothing I was about to continue on when I spotted a pair of Foxes, slowly walking along the fence-line. One disappeared in to the bushes while the other one sat down and promptly fell asleep. Looking further back, towards the farm, I could see dozens and dozens of Jackdaws and Pigeons all over the trees and barns.

I arrived at Holyfield Weir but there wasn't much to be seen apart from the odd Coot and Gull. There were a few other dabbling ducks about but not much else.

Just before I reached the Grebe HideJay flew past me, then back again. A Grey Heron was perched up on a stump in the small lagoon. Both birds soon disappeared as they saw me.

I sat down and looked out over the lake. The GCG count soon went up to 24. There wasn't much about out here either, apart from lots of Pochard. The Grey Heron had now perched up high on one of the distant island trees, surveying his domain.

But, patience paid off and, about 20 minutes later, my target bird for today, a gorgeous female Goosander appeared, out to the right. Unfortunately, she stayed distant and so I was unable to immortalise her beauty.

On the return journey, just before I arrived back at the Weir, another Muntjac appeared and ran across the trail in front of me. At the Weir itself a Reserve Warden had turned up and was busy working away. The only addition on the water was a Little Grebe.

There was a lone Redwing picking off the red berries over on the other side of the relief channel. It was now starting to get quite windy. I tightened my scarf.

Just before I reached the end of the trail I spotted a Great Spotted Woodpecker, climbing up one of the trees. It seemed to be quite small though and, at first, I thought it may have been a Lesser. But I couldn't get close enough for a shot and when it saw me, it flew off.

I hung around the Bittern Hide until dusk, hoping to see a Bittern fly in to roost. Unfortunately not. But I was again entertained by the sight of a flying, screeching Grey Heron, trying to land on one of the trees opposite the Hide. It didn't quite seem to have the knack and kept landing on a weaker branch.

Just before I left a Great Tit sounded off an alarm, scaring all the birds off the feeders. Sure enough, a few seconds later, a Sparrowhawk raced past.

A cold, crisp day out. No Bittern but I spotted my target, the bird of the day, a Goosander.