Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lea Valley Walk

It still feels like winter.  With the first true summer migrants now starting to trickle through, there are still plenty of our winter visitors around waiting for the appropriate moment to disappear back to their breeding grounds.

Catching the train from Hackney Downs and alighting at Cheshunt, I decided to explore an area of the Lea Valley that is renowned for delivering good birding throughout the year.  Today didn't disappoint.

Heading from the station, I navigated the paths along the western side routing past Cheshunt Lake and up towards Holyfield Lake.  There were plenty of Redwings looking fidgety and flighty with up to 60 observed on my rounds with a couple seen singing from lofty positions among the treetops.  En route, four Bullfinches (two pairs) with the males looking mighty fine, two Chiffchaff in song, and two flyover Siskin were seen at various points.  On Holyfield Lake, around 120 Wigeon were still present.

Heading down towards Fishers Green and the Bittern Watchpoint, a Muntjac Deer fed along the path edge totally oblivious to my presence, that was until I caught its' attention.

Muntjac Deer south of Holyfield Lake

Meandering round the water courses, the path eventually led to the Fishers Green Car Park from where I headed straight to the Bittern Watchpoint.  From the hide, a very obliging Water Rail spent time commuting across one of the channels that had been cut though the reed bed busily feeding.  A single refrain from a Cetti's Warbler within the depths of the reedbed, and a female Reed Bunting were also noted.

Water Rail from Bittern Watchpoint - Fishers Green

There were plenty of boisterous Black-headed Gulls on Seventy Acres Lake with a large number now in summer plumage.  A single Common Gull was also present.

Heading west alongside the relief channel, a Kingfisher darted past down river and onto one of the adjacent lakes.

My bird of the day however, was the drake Goosander seen swimming nervously on the relief channel. The bird was seen at close range through the thickets from the main path, roseate flanks obvious contrasting with the white made this bird look supreme.  Really stunning!

A close second place (I wish there was a photo finish!) was duly taken by the drake Smew on Hooks Marsh associating with Tufted Ducks close to the western end, reasonably distant, but good views nonetheless  Again, a truly stunning bird and to have seen both of these rare winter visitors today was without doubt a real treat.

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