Thursday, 19 November 2015

Let the Train take the Strain!

Fishers Green, Cheshunt - 18th November, 15

Weather: Mostly cloudy, some sunshine. Very windy.

Bird Total: 35

Due to poor weather; poor health and poor plumbing (don't ask), today was my first opportunity to get out and about for weeks. The weather forecast was still for more rain, albeit later in the day. However, it was quite sunny early on.

Which is why I rose early, to get an early train. Which is where it all went horribly wrong. Because the trains were playing silly buggers. I had dashed over to the Station to get a ticket, because I had spotted a train on the platform, ready and waiting.

Unfortunately, this particular train was going nowhere, because it had developed a fault. Which was why everyone was still standing on the platform. I found out that the train was waiting to be pushed away, by another one, which could be seen further up the track. However, the problem was that they were different types of train, meaning that they had to wait for the correct connecting hardware to arrive. Argh!

Eventually and surprisingly, our train suddenly started up of its' own accord and slowly pulled away from the platform. With no help from the other train. This train then arrived on to the platform, empty, but didn't stop and carried on past. I wondered why, as both trains were going the same way as I was. Couldn't they give me a lift?

A third train arrived. Joyfully, it stopped and opened its' doors. Sadly, there was no room on the train. None of us managed to get on board. A bit pointless stopping the train in the first place. Finally, a few minutes later, another train arrived. This was also quite full but I managed to squeeze on, arriving at my destination a little later than I had intended, but still in one piece.

I waved a hearty farewell to the poor, squashed, downtrodden commuters and headed off towards the reserve. Nothing to report on the way down, as I wasn't in a position to see anything. However, I did see that there were now plenty of extra ponds and lagoons along the route. In fact, I was surprised not to see any boats on them!

All this extra water was probably due to the heavy winds and rain we had yesterday. Branches and other debris were strewn everywhere, as I walked along the Canal. It was still pretty windy today, which was possibly the reason why I didn't see too many birds. Still, it kept the dog-walking fraternity down. And the cyclists. Joggers were aplenty, though.

Canal view from one side.......
I duly arrived at my first port of call, Friday Lake. Plenty of birds out on the lake, the usual crowd, but included several Wigeon; a lone male Pochard; a pair of Great Crested Grebes; Shoveler and loads of Gulls. To my right, over Hall Marsh, loads more Gulls plus several Lapwing went up. Probably because of a Buzzard I could see flying over.

They had all been outside the Teal Hide and had settled back down by the time I arrived. The area had been heavily cut back and so afforded quite a good view of the whole area. There were plenty of Geese, Canada and Greylag; around 40-odd Lapwing; about the same number of Wigeon; several Teal and a few Shoveler. A little later a Grey Heron flew in and was immediately mobbed by a Lesser Black-backed Gull, who looked so upset, it sprayed the Heron. Eventually the Heron was chased off.

.......and from 'tother.
I started up the trail, towards the Bittern Hide. Not long after I had left the Teal Hide I spotted a Sparrowhawk being harassed by a Carrion Crow. Both eventually flew towards me and I had an excellent view of an aerial fight, just above me.

The walk through the lakes was quiet. I heard a Cetti's Warbler and a Great Spotted Woodpecker, but I did see a lone Jay. A few Great Crested Grebes, now all in their winter plumage, were floating around. However, there wasn't a great deal else to see.

Unfortunately, it was pretty much all downhill from then on. I sat in the Bittern Hide for over an hour, only seeing the usual suspects. A few people came and went. The wind picked up, to almost gale force level, while the sun went in behind some darkening clouds. I broke for lunch, hoping that the weather would improve. It didn't. In fact, it got worse.

Therefore, I decided to cancel my walk up to the Grebe Hide and head home, before it started to rain. On the walk back I spotted a Kingfisher fly in and land on a branch, quite close. Unfortunately, I was in the open and it saw me and flew off. Out on one of the lakes I spotted a few nice looking yachts. One of them turned too sharply, caught the strong wind and lurched over into the water. I heard a few expletives.

The trains were still playing catch-up but eventually one turned up. It was surprisingly empty, thankfully. I only took two photos all day, possibly a day I should had stayed in bed, but it was still good to be out again. Hopefully things will improve.

'A milliHelen is the unit of beauty needed to launch a single ship.'