Weather: Sunny and very warm all day.
Bird Total: 40
Plus: Grey Squirrel; Muntjac.
Plus: Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell.
It was very possibly the warmest day of the year today, judging by the way I divested myself of two layers! Blue skies and sunshine virtually all day. I was wishing that I had brought a cold drink rather than the hot coffee I had with me.
My friend Barry again accompanied me on the trip today. Although having visited Fishers Green before he hadn't been for quite some time. We had parked up near the feeding point at Hooks Marsh and so I was very lenient with him and only took him around the shortened version of my usual route.
Earlier, he had picked me up and we had set off for the Reserve, only to drive back to his house to retrieve his forgotten binoculars. Doh! We arrived just after 10-ish and proceeded straight around the trail towards the Bittern Hide.
Even earlier than that, on the train down, I spotted a lone Little Egret in the distance and a Muntjac, feeding quite close to the tracks. That's a first!
Just before we arrived at the Bittern Hide we spotted a drake Goosander, out on the lagoon to our right, adjacent to the relief channel. Looking out over Seventy Acres lake we struggled to see much at all, apart from lots of very noisy Gulls. The hawthorns along this stretch were starting to bud and looked absolutely wonderful.
There were a few people in the Hide when we arrived but we just managed to squeeze into a fairly decent spot. All of the people in the Hide were looking intently at one spot outside. I guessed before even one of them confirmed - a Bittern was about!
At first it was difficult to pick up, but when it started to move about I latched on to it and silently begged it to move out in to one of the channels. Barry was having a problem seeing it and, despite the guy next to him pointing it out - now in the smallest channel - he still couldn't see it. Probably because he was looking in the wrong direction!
I'm not sure what the guy sitting next to him was pointing to but the Bittern was further to his right. Barry eventually spotted it when the bird pointed its' head up.
We sat there continually trying to get a better view of it but when it disappeared into the thick part of the reed bed we decided to take a walk upto towards the Grebe Hide. We did get several good views of a Water Rail as well.
Just before we entered the trail towards the Hide we spotted a Jay fly in and land on a post. It flew off before we could get any nearer.
But the trail along here was eerily quiet, with not even any other people about. Which, fortunately, meant no dog-walkers! Hurrah!
Looking out over the relief channel, to the lagoon, with the Farm in the background, we could see a Grey Heron in full stalk mode, with a few Shoveler swimming about. Jackdaws were squawking above us as they flew towards the Farm.
Then I spotted my first butterfly of the season! A Small Tortoiseshell, fluttering past us. It landed a little ways from us, for a definite ID but then took off before I could get close.
We then reached Holyfield Weir, which was nearly devoid of bird-life. Further out, on the lagoons beyond, we could see a few pairs of Great Crested Grebes and a drake Goosander with a pair of females. Then a pair of Egyptian Geese flew over.
Just before we reached the Grebe Hide we spooked a pair of Muntjac. They quickly darted off, into the thick thicket, disappearing.
But looking out from the Hide proved a big disappointment. The lagoon out front was nearly bird-less. Only a few pairs of GCGs were about, only one of which was close by. A few Pochard and Tufted Duck could be seen at the back of the Lagoon. And I only saw one pair of Coot here. Far out to the right were 3 more Goosanders, possibly the same 3 we spotted earlier.
After lunch we decided to cut our losses and head back to the Bittern Hide. Just outside the Grebe Hide we spotted our second butterfly species of the season - a lovely Red Admiral. On the trail back we spotted several more butterflies, but were unable to ID them, as they were too quick.
Just before we reached the Weir again we could see another pair of Goosander which were fast asleep at the back of the lagoon. But then, just beside them, we spotted a pair of Goldeneye, continually diving.
A Little Egret could be seen hunting on the lagoon over the relief channel. By time we reached the facilities it was starting to get very warm. Barry had already started taking layers off. When we entered the, now very humid, Bittern Hide again I started rolling my sleeves up.
This time the Bittern gave us a very good view as it crossed one of the channels and then continued to give us a fairly good view as it moved about in the reeds. More Water Rails entertained us and then a pair of Muntjac appeared to our right, feeding and drinking. A female Reed Bunting appeared and awaited her turn for the feeders.
A pair of Magpies showed up and hopped around the grass below the feeders, showing some lovely colours in the sunshine. A Kingfisher flashed past us, from right to left. Out on the lake only the noisy BHGs were present in some numbers. Coots and Mutes were around, but not nearly in as many numbers as in previous visits. No Lapwing were seen today.
But we did get a visit from a few teenagers for a few minutes and they left us with an aroma very much like waccy-baccy! In my day it would have been shared out!
Also surprisingly, despite the warm sunshine, there weren't too many people about. Not too many dog-walkers thankfully and so it was another dry ankle day.
At 5pm we decided to call it a day and left the Bittern and Bittern-watchers to it. On the train journey back I spotted a Barn Owl. Another really great day out!
'A sign at a drug rehab centre read 'Keep off the Grass!'