Saturday, 16 February 2013

Ashley Goosanders

Goosanders are regular winter visitors to the Lea Valley, particularly the area around the Nazeing and Cheshunt gravel pits. They are occasionally seen at the north end of the valley around Amwell and Rye Meads, but mostly just flying through. I therefore set off on my annual pilgrimage to see them and hopefully photograph them at Cheshunt.

I parked in the Turnford Brook car park, walked over the railway bridge and turned left to walk north up the western edge of the park. Eventually I came to the Ashley Fishery, previously pre-gravel extraction days known as Turnford Marsh. I followed the footpath around the eastern edge of the lake as this is more wooded and allows a more stealthy approach.

There were seven Goosanders present, four males and three females and, although in fairly loose formation, were mainly towards the northern end of the lake. I edged my way along the footpath and although fairly hidden from the birds, I was unable to get any shots through the branches of the trees. Fortunately there were some clearing with fishing stages which allowed uninterrupted views.

In previous years the birds were fairly settled and, whilst keeping a wary eye on you, were not disturbed by your presence. This year, however, a couple of the males were far more jumpy.

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