Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Yes, we have no Bitterns

This is a very overdue post, from Friday 2nd December. I'm only writing it up now because I'm so sleep-deprived that I can't concentrate on my proper work, of which there is lots. But that's my problem, not yours. On the afore-mentioned Friday, I met Graham and Becca for a few hours' Bittern-hunting at Fisher's Green. I texted Graham from the train and he came to meet me at Cheshunt station, while Becca stayed in the Bittern hide. When we joined her, she had enjoyed good views (and taken good photos) of a Water Rail. Graham's and my failure to see this Water Rail became a bit of a theme for the day.

 Of course, most of the people in the hide were there hoping to see a Bittern, except perhaps this chap, who looked very fetching in his blue jumper. But we had limited patience and daylight, so we gave it half an hour and then hit the trails.

As we walked along towards the weir, noting GC Grebes, Gadwalls and Coots in the river and the odd gull overhead, Graham remarked that he would like to see a Redwing. As if it had waited for this moment all its life, this Redwing promptly appeared.

A Lesser Black-backed Gull. The weather was disappointing, we'd been promised sunshine (damnit) but the skies were grey for most of the day. It was also rather chilly, the autumn mildness finally gone. Poor Becca was suffering from a bad case of frozen toes, despite having four pairs of socks on.

Up at the weir, this Common Gull sat photogenically on a post. Numerous ducks swarmed in the water below, including plenty of Wigeons. Across from the river, a few Teals and Shovelers paddled across a flooded field.

A surprise among the wildfowl, a lovely female Goldeneye.

We continued along to the hide that overlooks the lake above the weir. It was good to see that they have added a second bench in this hide since my last visit. However, the view from the hide wasn't too inspiring, assorted wildfowl but nothing new for our day list.

On the walk back, the sun came out briefly and illuminated a flock of Fieldfares that flew between the lakeside trees, merrily dodging our lenses. This heavily cropped effort is still my best Fieldfare photo. Must try harder.

We put in a last stint at the Bittern hide, in fast-disappearing light (as this pic of restless gulls and Lapwings shows). No Bittern, but we did get some terrible views of a silhouetted and retreating Water Rail, ending Becca's Water Rail monopoly.

I spent a little while watching the feeding station at the far end of the hide, seeing Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinches and a solitary Robin.


Mike Attwood said...

Better luck next time Marianne.

Phil said...

Hi Marianne.
I was beginning to think you'd bloggered off somewhere!
Bad luck with the Bittern, maybe you should revisit New Hythe sometime. Let me know should you decide to and i'll happily pick you up.
Your Fieldfare shot is a masterpiece compared to my best effort with this species.