Monday, 25 April 2016

Nesting Great Crested Grebes @ Fishers Green!

Fishers Green, Cheshunt - 20th April, 16

Weather: Blues skies, slight cloud. Very warm, cold wind.

Bird Total: 49
Plus: Grey Squirrel.
Plus: Brimstone, Orange Tip, Peacock and Small White butterflies.
Plus: Banded Snail; Bee-fly; Bluebottle; Buff-tailed Bumblebee; Flesh Fly; Hoverfly; Midge; Nursery Web Spider; Red-eared Terrapin; Red-tailed Bumblebee.
Plus: Bluebells; Daffodils; Primrose.

Although it was a very long day yesterday, I woke up feeling quite refreshed. The weather was forecast to be another fine, sunny day. Which it was, but they omitted to let us know that it was tempered with a very cold wind. And I had 'layered down'.

Still, it was another day out. This time it was a visit to Cheshunt. I had arranged to meet Ron again, this time where the pair of Great Crested Grebes were nesting, along the Relief channel.

Earlier, on the train down, there were only 2 pairs of Great Crested Grebes on the lake and a Buzzard, high in the sky. The lambs were still bouncing around the fields, while there were no wildfowl to be seen at all. While I was waiting at the Station I was entertained by a pair of Collared Doves.

Another group of cyclists were waiting for me, as I walked through the car-park, to the Canal Path. Just as I entered the Path, I spotted a pair of Coot, with 5 little Cootlets following them. Chiffchaff and Blackcap were calling out. The early cloud had departed and the sun was shining, but the cold wind was biting into me. I zipped up my fleece.

In total contrast to yesterday's visit, there were already loads of cyclists and dog-walkers about today. I reached Friday Lake to find - not a lot. Only Coot and Tufties could be seen. There were also a couple of pairs of Greylag Geese, while a Cetti's Warbler could be heard. However, as I looked up into the sky, to search for any raptors, I was delighted to see my first Swift of the season fly over.

There wasn't a great deal to be seen from the Teal Hide, either. There were suitably lots of Teal out there, as well as loads of Black-headed Gulls. However, there wasn't a lot else to be seen. I didn't stay long, not just because of the lack of birds, but the cold wind was blowing through the Hide, as the door was faulty and couldn't be closed.

Outside there were a few clumps of Spanish Bluebells and some Primroses. I started the long walk, through the lakes, towards Fishers Green. Along the way, I spotted a few Chiffchaff; Blackcap and Reed Warbler; a Peacock butterfly and, surprisingly, in this cold wind, lots of insects, including Flesh Flies; Hoverflies and Nursery Web Spiders.

One of the Blackcaps presented itself for a photo, but, just as I was about to press the shutter, a cyclist roared by. More Great Crested Grebes were around and then I spotted my first Bee-fly of the season. Although there wasn't much to see, there was plenty of birdsong.

I finally arrived at the Relief Channel, on the way to the Bittern Hide, where the GCGs were. Ron was already there, with camera and tripod, snapping away at the lone Grebe, sat atop the nest. Just before I reached him, I spotted a Red-eared Terrapin, sunning itself on top of a log.

Although a little warmer here, it was still nonetheless quite cold in the wind. We waited for the other Great Crested Grebe to return, to try and witness a changeover. However, we waited in vain, as said partner never arrived in the hour that we stood there.

We did see a Ring-necked Parakeet squawk overhead and then a lone Common Tern flew over. Other people passed by, wondering what the hell we were doing. All of them took a gander at the nesting Grebe and walked on.

After taking a few shots of the Grebe and the Terrapin we decided to head for the Bittern Hide and lunch. Where I was horrified to see that they had chopped the tree down, to the left of the Hide, where all the birds queued up for the feeders. Why on earth have they done that?

A little earlier, by the feeding area, we spotted a lone Egyptian Goose, in amongst all the Coot; Tufted Duck; Mallards; Mute Swans and Canada Geese.

There were a few people in the Hide, including my friend Markus, but we didn't see a great deal. Several Reed Warblers sang out, from the reeds in front; a male Reed Bunting could be seen to the left, while the Black-headed Gulls were making a lot of noise, out on the rafts.

Ron had to be home early today, so we headed off up the trail, towards the Weir, using the old route. I did keep an eye out for any odonata, but the cold wind put paid to them. So we concentrated on trying to hear any Nightingales singing out, along this stretch. We didn't hear any, but we did see Willow Warbler and Blackcap.

There were more butterflies seen in this area, Brimstone; Peacock and Orange Tip. However, the Weir was, as usual now, very quiet. Ron headed off, while I continued on towards the Grebe Hide.

Along the way, I spotted more Chiffchaff; Blackcap and Willow Warblers, all singing away. More Great Crested Grebes and then 2 Jays. Unusually, a pair of cyclists rode past. Then, an unidentified bird flew past, along the channel. It looked like a Wagtail, but I couldn't be sure. And, lastly, just before I reached the Hide, a Treecreeper flew in and landed on the adjacent tree.

I looked out from the Grebe Hide, over the lake, to see, eventually, 4 Great Crested Grebes; a pair of nesting Grey Herons, plus begging juvenile; a pair of Pochard; a lone Great Spotted Woodpecker and more Tufties and Geese.

With nothing else of note, I headed off, leaving a couple of people in the Hide. On the route back, it was more or less the same sort of thing. More Blackcaps, including a few females, while a Green Woodpecker called out.

Then, just as I reached the car-park, before the Weir, I spotted a bird fly up the channel and land. A quick look through my Bins and I was surprised to see that it was a Common Sandpiper. I tried to creep closer, but then the only car in the area drove by, scaring it further upriver. I debated about whether I should follow it, but then a jogger ran past, scaring it even further away.

Nice of the LVRP to allow a 'doggie-bag' area!
I reached Fishers Green again, availed myself of the facilities and then sat back down in the Bittern Hide. Just outside, by the feeding area, the Egyptian Geese count had risen to 2.

A couple were already in the Hide. It was their first visit and they proceeded to ask me several questions, especially regarding the Tern Rafts. While I was explaining the area to them, 3 Oystercatchers peeped out over the lake and then we saw them, circling a few times before flying off stage right. Not long after, a pair of Common Terns could be seen, inspecting the Rafts.

The male Reed Bunting was still about, plus more Reed Warblers. The Black-headed Gull racket proved to be too much and so I opted to try and stake out the nesting pair of Great Crested Grebes. On the way, I spotted a Greylag Goose family, the little fluffy, yellow Goslings squeaking to keep up with mum and dad.

When I reached the nest, there was still only one parent there, while the sun had gone behind the trees, shading the nest. So I opted to head home, as my back had started to complain. Just past Hooks Marsh a Pied Wagtail flew over.

Another very good day, with pretty good weather. Although the forecast for the next several days is for Arctic-like weather. Obviously the Winter doesn't want to go quietly.

'No act of kindness ever goes unpunished.'