Weather: Cloudy and overcast for most of the day. Cold wind.
Bird Total: 44
Plus: Grey Squirrel; Muntjac.
I did a last check of the weather forecast this morning and they assured me that there would be rain early on, followed by clear skies for the rest of the day. Which is why I decided to get a later train to avoid said rain. Unfortunately, it was heavy cloud for most of the day. And there wasn't much rain.
Whilst waiting for the later train I was pleasantly surprised to spot a pair of Jays fly past, just before the train arrived. And walking up the trail towards the Teal Hide I spotted a female Goosander and a redhead Smew over on Friday Lake. They were swimming together, as if they were a couple. A good start!
When I got to the viewpoint of Friday Lake from the south end all I could see, apart from the usual, were 3 Great Crested Grebes, all swimming around on their own.
Looking out from the Teal Hide itself I could see a few Shoveler; a few Teal; 13 Wigeon; a cock Pheasant out to the right and then I spotted 5 jet-black Pheasants at the back of the lagoon, roaming through the tall grass. Everything was quiet and peaceful and I took the opportunity to sit and watch.
On the trail, over the relief channel, adjacent to Friday Lake was my first Muntjac of the day. In fact, I spotted 5 during the course of the day. All were busy cropping the grass.
I stopped off, briefly, at the eastern end of Friday Lake for a quick recce, finding a group of fellow birders. I pointed out the Smew and Goosander I had seen earlier. They must have had a domestic, as they were on their own now. The birds that is, not the Birders.
Out on Hall Marsh Lake there were more GCGs; a Little Grebe; Goldfinches flew over, while a Great Black-backed Gull was being mobbed by a few Black-headed Gulls.
I also noticed on the little stream opposite to the lake that it was littered with beer cans. All of them lager cans. A few yards earlier there was a sign saying 'Take Your Litter Home!'. Fat chance. I hate litter louts.
I had just entered the trail heading up to Fishers Green and the Bittern Hide when I heard the familiar call of a Green Woodpecker somewhere behind the distant trees.
Looking out over Seventy Acres Lake I could see a pair of Egyptian Geese; a few Grey Herons and lots of Lapwing, all milling around the main island. It looked just as quiet and peaceful here, too.
Just before I reached the Bittern Hide the sun made a brief appearance, all too fleetingly unfortunately.
When I arrived in the Hide itself there were a few people already there. One of them told me that a Bittern had been seen about 30 minutes earlier, together with a pair of Muntjac. Strange bedfellows, I thought. Whatever turns you on!
Pleased with the news, I sat down and waited for the Bittern to show itself again. An hour and a half later and I was still waiting. People came and went. Apart from the birds on show out on the lake, which weren't doing very much and the birds on the feeders, which were, there was only a fleeting appearance of a Water Rail.
Disappointed and feeling a little cold, I headed off up the trail towards the Grebe Hide. I entered the trail together with another birder. On the trail up we spotted a Muntjac; a Green Woodpecker and a lovely drake Pintail on the little lagoon over the relief channel. The dead Mute Swan was still around.
From the Grebe Hide itself, we eventually spotted 7 Goosanders, out to the right. 1 male and 6 female. I wondered if the male had a smile on his face. Then we watched a pair of GCGs doing the head-shaking thing. There were several other GCGs about on the lake as well.
On the trail back I spotted another 3 Muntjac. As I said earlier, all cropping the grass. They all looked up at me, as one, but ignored me and carried on. I guess they'd decided I was no threat. I wasn't; I'm a born coward.
Then I found myself back in the Bittern Hide. No Bittern unfortunately, but the Water Rail showed itself a few more times, as did a lone Little Grebe. Then a Sparrowhawk flashed past, from left to right, scattering all the birds on the feeders. A Sprawk fly-by always gets the adrenalin flowing.
It was probably the same culprit that began putting all the Lapwing up as well. It was either that or a Kestrel that appeared a little later, hovering out to the right.
Then it started to darken and I decided to call it a day. On the walk back to the station a Jay flew over, then the 3 manky Mallards turned up again on the relief channel. Then, finally, from the bridge I could see another Little Grebe and a pair of Goosander.
A very good day out, quite mild-ish weather. I only had on 6 layers today and relied heavily on my magic scarf in the cold wind. A sighting of a Bittern would have made it an excellent day, but it is fast becoming a bit of a 'Scarlet Pimpernel', very elusive!
'When I was a child my father attacked me with cameras; I still have flashbacks.'