Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday night in Cheshunt

A slightly strange evening. We'd just arrived at Sainsburys when I had a call from Steve to say he'd got a Hoopoe on a school playing field in Biggleswade - 5 minutes away! (it had been reported just down the road by persons unknown earlier in the day).

So we went and saw that, and watched it feeding happily amongst the daisies. Said hello to the new arrival on the Beds birding scene, who then added Hoopoe to his already-impressive life list. Then we met with Mark and decided to go for the Lee Valley Savi's Warbler.

And that's how we got to spend Friday night in Cheshunt.

We did hear the Savi's singing ('reeling'), but it didn't show itself. I didn't need it for my UK list anyway, having added it back in May 1991, on my first-ever twitch (and the last one for about 9 years) at Stanwick in Northamptonshire.

It got chilly and frustrating, waiting for the target bird to reveal itself. But instead of boasting loudly about upcoming holidays like most twitchers, we watched and heard what was going on in front of us.
  • Common Terns floating over the pools
  • Clouds of midges
  • A Water Rail swimming across the channel
  • A Hobby catching and eating insects on the wing
  • Reed Warblers chuntering away
  • Coots fighting
  • Nightingale and Cetti's Warbler singing

Best of all was a Great Crested Grebe fishing for its two stripy chicks. We watched the parent swimming around for ages, 'snorkelling' with head under the water looking for prey. When it did eventually catch a fish, it was a large Rudd far too big for the youngsters! One had a brave attempt to swallow it, but without success. Eventually the adult gulped it down, but it looked like hard work...

It was much better than the Savi's Warbler.