Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Stitched up by a Ukipper!

Fishers Green, Cheshunt - 13th May, 15

Weather: Bright and sunny all day, with slight cloud. Very hot.

Bird Total: 44
Plus: Fox; Red-eared Slider.
Plus: Azure, Blue-tailed, Common Blue damselflies; Hairy dragonfly.
Plus: Comma, Holly Blue, Large White, Orange Tip, Peacock, Small White butterflies.
Plus: 16-Spot Ladybird; Buff-tailed Bumble Bee; Cardinal Beetle; Common Crane Fly; Flesh Fly; Hoverflies; Long-jawed Orb Spider; Mayfly; Midge; Nursery Web Spider.

Unfortunately, for various reasons, I hadn't visited the Fishers Green area for nearly 2 months. So it was well overdue for a trip.

The weather was forecast to be nice and warm, with some cloud. Carol got it right today. I knew that I would be out for most of the day, so left home a little later than usual.

The only thing to see, of note, on the way down was a Grey Heron, wings outstretched, atop a tree stump, having a sun bath. On the walk down the canal to the Teal Hide I could see that the Flora down here had exploded as well. It would be difficult to spot any birds amongst this stuff.

I sat down at the western end of Friday Lake and looked out. Not much about. A pair of Mute Swans to my right; a few Coot milling around and a couple of Mallards, who swam up to me, hoping for a hand-out. Cetti's Warbler and Wren were calling out. When I dropped my Bins I found the Swans had swam up to me as well. Unfortunately, for them, they were sorely disappointed.

I walked on a little ways and soon found the first damselflies, mostly Common Blues and mostly looking like they were recent arrivals. In fact, this little area was quite abundant with them. A little further on, just outside the Hide, I found loads of Common Crane Flies, all flying away as I approached. Hoverflies and Nursery Web Spiders were also acting very nervous around me. It's not me they need to watch out for!

I sat down in the Teal Hide and looked out. There was one other guy in there already, with a little toddler. Nothing much about outside, on the first sweep, except for 3 Grey Herons. About five minutes later, a Fox ambled past, from left to right, with what looked like a Gosling in its' jaws. I managed to fire off a few shots, before it heard me and ran off.

I was left on my own for a few minutes, when another guy came in briefly, peered out before telling me that he would 'leave me in peace'. Why do people always say that to me? The first butterflies of the day appeared, Small White; Peacock; Holly Blue and Orange Tip.

Plus there was plenty of pollen flying around, which had already started me off. Time to pop a pill. The Hide itself was strewn with litter, looking like it needed a clean-up. Why can't people take their rubbish with them? There's no such thing as the 'Rubbish Fairy'!

Then another guy came in, a fellow birder. We chatted for a few minutes and then he proceeded to let me know, in no uncertain terms, what was the matter with the Country these days. I suspected a UKIP supporter. After about 10 minutes I decided to head off, but he followed me out the door and then on the trail through the lakes.

About half-way around, I stopped and sat down to try and photograph a pair of Great Crested Grebes that I suspected had a nest nearby, as they hadn't swum off when we approached. Your man cheerfully waved me farewell and carried on. He hadn't unduly bothered me, but he was quite loud and was scaring off everything.

We had seen a few things along the trail, but I'm not sure if I can remember them all. In the sky we saw Common Tern and Hobby. We heard a Cuckoo. There were plenty of damselflies about. There were quite a few families about, birdy-wise. Mallards; Geese etc.

I managed to get a few shots of the Grebes and then I spotted a male Hairy dragonfly fly by. It was a good idea to pause here! A few minutes later two of them flew by. More Holly Blues and Peacocks were around.

I carried on up the trail, hearing Cetti's and Chiffchaffs. I then spotted the first Red-headed Cardinal Beetle. Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling out somewhere close. The pollen was really starting to fall now, looking like a snow-storm in some places. At least the midge swarms had thinned out, but I didn't know what was worse!

Nothing much else to shout about until I entered the trail upto the Bittern Hide. Not long into it, I found a pair of Great Crested Grebes on a nest, on the relief channel. It was too good a photogenic scene to ignore and, with the sun behind me and sheltering in the shadow of a tree, I settled down to try and do justice to them. I hung around the area for 20 minutes or so, eventually being rewarded with a show of eggs.

While I was photographing the Grebes, Common Terns flew over, calling out to each other. A Green Woodpecker sounded off somewhere, as did a Peacock, obviously a captive one. Mayflies were rising up and flying past every few minutes.

Satisfied with the shots, I headed off to the Bittern Hide. There was one other guy in there already, with a woman arriving soon after me. There were the usual crowd out on the lake, including loads of very noisy Black-headed Gulls. On the pond in front we witnessed a pair of Great Crested Grebes fishing in the channels. Then I spotted a Red-eared Slider towards the back of one of the channels, sunning itself. There were plenty of Warblers flying around the reeds, mainly Reedies, but with a few Sedgies as well. The feeders were strangely quiet. I guess there were plenty of insects on offer at this time of year. Hopefully Midges, I thought.

There was plenty of birdsong on the trails today, always nice to hear. Lots of Warblers, including Blackcap and Garden. But just along the trail towards the Weir and the Grebe Hide, I started to hear several Nightingales. I spotted at least one, but they were all quite hidden in the trees.

A Capsid Bug
A little further on, looking over the relief channel, towards the Farm, I noticed that the little lagoon had almost dried up. Which was why there were no birds on it. But, as I looked, an Egyptian Goose flew past.

Nothing else to see until I arrived at the Grebe Hide. There wasn't very much to see on the lagoon here, either. A few Lesser-black Backed Gulls; a few Coot and Geese; at least 20+ Great Crested Grebes, 2 pairs of which were sitting on nests. But the star bird here was a lovely Brent Goose, sat on a log to my right, about 30 metres away. It hung around for a few minutes, posing, before swimming off. Sometimes you just get lucky.

I headed back, after lunch, looking for any interesting insects. Disappointingly few around here. A few more butterflies, no damsels and only Hoverflies. A sad contrast after recent years. The birdsong continued to entertain me. The Nightingales had stopped, to be replaced with Garden Warblers.

When I arrived at the Weir I found an Egyptian Goose, sat quite close in. It didn't seem to mind my presence, so it must have been a male. Just before I exited this part of the trail I spotted a posing Holly Blue and then spotted a 16-spot Ladybird.

I soon found myself back in the Bittern Hide but there wasn't too much to shout about. I gave it 30 minutes before walking back to look at the nesting Grebes again. They were now in shadow as the sun was going down, so I called it a day and headed home.

'Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds
sang there except those that sang best.' Henry Van Dyke