Saturday, 26 March 2016

Aggressively Mediocre @ Fishers Green!

Fishers Green, Cheshunt - 14th March, 16

Weather: Blues skies, slight cloud. Cold wind.

Bird Total: 41
Plus: Muntjac.
Plus: Buff-tailed Bumblebee; Midge.

It was a quiet day today, compared to all the excitement of the last trip. You might even say that the day was 'aggressively mediocre'. The lakes and lagoons were eerily quiet, with hardly any birds about. I'm not too sure why, various reasons probably include too many people about or the weather.

Speaking of the weather, it was really nice out, warm and sunny, but tempered by a cold wind. Maybe, with the advent of Spring, the Winter birds have migrated while the Summer birds haven't yet arrived.

Whatever, on the journey down I managed to spot 3 Egyptian Geese; only 3 Canada Geese this time; quite a few Wigeon; around half-a-dozen Teal; a lone Little Egret and a pair of Great Crested Grebes. There was a Collared Dove at the train station earlier.

Again, there was no conflab of Moorhen or Woodpigeon, instead it was the turn of the Black-headed Gulls. Maybe they've all heard about the EU vote. I wonder which side they will lean to? I wonder what they think about BoJo!

Without doubt, the star bird of the day!
I entered the Canal Path, passing quite a few narrowboats on the way. Earlier, by the car-park, I saw a man with a dog getting out of his car. The dog was barking away furiously and pulling on the lead. It was probably excited about the walk.

'Down, Sid, down!' The man yelled, looking at me sheepishly.

'Sid?' I enquired, trying to doge past it without being jumped on.

'Yeah, because he's VICIOUS!'

I groaned, smiled and carried on.

Reaching Friday Lake, I sat down on the wooden bench and got my act together. Looking out, all I could see were Coot, Gulls and Tufties. A pair of Mute Swans floated up to me, expectantly. No sign of the Smew. In fact, I didn't see any all day. They might be gone by now. Another sign of Spring.

There may not have been any Smew here, nor surprisingly, any Great Crested Grebe, but the dog-walking fraternity were already out in force today, with dogs barking all over the place. Indeed, I had to watch where I stepped today, as I found lots of dog-poo in the middle of most of the paths, in many areas.

I reached the Teal Hide without any further problems and sat down. Outside, 2 Canada Geese were quite close and looking warily up at me, before continuing to feed. Over 30 Wigeon were also fairly near, but were keeping their distance. Around half-a-dozen Lapwing could be seen, dotted around; several Shoveler and Teal, all mainly dozing and a lone Grey Heron, out to the left. There were Gulls aplenty, mainly Black-headed but with a sprinkling of Herring and Lesser-black Backed amongst them.

Just before I left, another person entered - 'Much about?'. Outside, while I was looking for Water Rail on the adjacent stream, a familiar face appeared. I usually see him in the Bittern Hide. He was heading that way, after a visit to the Teal Hide. He let me know about some Goosander, seen on the western Canal. I thanked him and headed off to find them.

On the way, I could hear a Little Grebe whinnying nearby. I reached the Canal and spotted the Goosander almost immediately. A male and 2 females, which warily kept to the other side of the Canal. I managed a few modest photos.

I could also hear some Siskin around here, together with a party of Thrushes, which looked to be a mixture of Redwing and Fieldfare. A couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers were drumming in the distance. Then a Jay flew over the Canal and landed on one of the many trees opposite.

I headed off, through the Lakes, towards the Bittern Hide. There wasn't much about to report, other than a lone Little Grebe and several Great Crested Grebes. It was all very quiet.

Nothing from the Bridge and very few birds at the Hooks Marsh feeding point. This had been fenced off, due to subsidence. It didn't stop people from feeding the birds, though.

On the trail towards Fishers Green and the Bittern Hide, I spotted 3 Call Ducks. I haven't seen these here for a few years. A bit smaller than Mallards and just as curious and hungry for handouts.

On the other side, on the lake, I could see a Canada/Greylag Goose hybrid. Further along, there was only one coconut fat-ball feeder left and that was almost empty. I managed to avoid one of the dog-poo piles, freshly left. Thanks, whoever owned that dog!

I found my friend in the Bittern Hide. However, there was nothing much about. The feeders were full and were being visited regularly by Blues and Greats. Mallard and Moorhen were also paying regular visits, as were a pair of Magpies. A little Wren was flicking around the edges of the pond.

A male Reed Bunting was also taking advantage of the feeders. Out on the lake, apart from lots of very noisy Black-headed Gulls, were a pair of Egyptian Geese, on the island. However, there was no sign of a Bittern; none have been seen here for over a week. There was no sign of any Water Rails, either. Even the resident Grey Heron and Jay stayed away. Lunch.

I moved on, towards the Grebe Hide. There was nothing of note to be seen, other than the usual fare. The Weir was totally devoid of birds. I've never seen it as empty as this. On the trail towards the Hide, I managed to see a few more Great Crested Grebes, a stagnant Grey Heron and a female Pochard.

All the lakes and lagoons around this area were empty, too. Nothing was about. Very strange. There were plenty of anglers about today, even more than normal. I was about to enter the Grebe Hide when I finally spotted some birds. Out to my left were a pair of Goosander, no less, on the little lagoon. When I tried to 'stealthily' creep closer, they flew off.

However, from the Hide itself, I was delighted to see over a hundred Wigeon, floating around in front of the Hide. Nearly all of them, it seemed, were whistling away. A pair of Great Crested Grebes were in amongst them. A Little Grebe was far out to the left, struggling against the strong current.

Not long after, the GCG count rose to 6. Then I could see a female Goosander, way out to the right, floating between the islands. It may or may not have been one of the pair seen earlier. The water was very choppy, the wind here was quite strong and there were plenty of 'white horses' on show.

Just before I left a pair of Grey Herons could be seen, building a nest on one of the tall trees on the island in front. The wind was now really starting to blow and nearly blew one of the Herons off the tree. Only with lots of flapping did it manage to stay on the tree.

I decided to head back. Just outside, my first Muntjac of the day, a female, appeared briefly. It was a bit surprising not to have seen any earlier. After the last record-breaking visit, it looked as if even the mammals were staying hidden.

The only birds on show, on the journey back, were on the lagoon, over the relief channel. One Grey Heron; 5 Teal and a pair of Shoveler were doing their thing. Earlier, I had spotted Muntjac number two and then my first Buff-tailed Bumblebee of the year. It's probably a good time now to mention that there were still Midges about. The cold(ish) weather, this Winter, doesn't seem to have affected them.

Back in the Bittern Hide, there was nothing new to report. Other than one Mute Swan taking a beating from another, to the left of the Hide. It had probably 'transgressed the unwritten law' or something. The aggressor had pinned it down and, sitting atop, proceeded to bite and peck the poor unfortunate bird for several minutes, before deciding that it had made its' point. The loser managed to swim off, thereby avoiding more punishment.

A few people came and went. The temperature had risen around here and I was tempted to divest a few layers. The hot coffee remained untouched.

The only other thing to report was a brief visit of a female Great Spotted Woodpecker, to the left of the Hide, high up on the tree. It brought a little bit of excitement, as a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker had been reported here the day before.

I hung around for another 30 minutes or so, before deciding to call it a day and headed for home. Not as exciting a day as the previous visit, but a fairly rewarding one nonetheless.

'Why should I worry about future generations? What have they ever done for me?' Groucho Marx