28 February 2010

Not thinking about bitterns

I must not dwell on the bitterns, I must not dwell on the bitterns, I must not... oh, I give up. Hell and damnation, those blasted bitterns evaded me again at Brandon.

Right, now I've got that out of the my system, I can confess to having quite enjoyed my morning vigil at Brandon, even if the bitterns failed to show up, again.

This was my third or fourth lengthy attempt to see one this winter, a task you wouldn't think was so hard, given there are believed to be at least three on the site. I was informed when I arrived at 8am that one had recently crossed the cut channel and walked into the reedbed just below the hide window - surely good news.

Sadly it was not to be, and two-and-a-half hours later it had still not reappeared. While I bow to no one in my admiration of the bittern's amazing powers of camouflage and concealment, a quick trot back across the channel would have been welcome.

Anyway, aside from going cross-eyed watching reedbeds for non-appearing bitterns, it was a good morning. Out on east marsh pool there were the usual good numbers of shovellers and lapwing (c 250 of the latter), a large number of snipe (I found 16 but heard reports of up to 31), and brilliant views of two water rail - a bird I hear far more often that I see (indeed it's probably more than a year since I got views anywhere near this good - sadly the poor light meant poor shutter speed meant... well, you can see for yourself, disappointing photos).

Around the margins were at least two loudly singing cettis warblers, and a male reed bunting which showed well in reeds in front of the hide.

However, the highlight of the morning, aside from everyone helpfully sharing their best bittern photos with me, was catching the arrival of the year's first Ringed Plover. It circled the water twice, landed on the main island, stayed for long enough for everyone to lock on to it and confirm its identity, and then headed off towards the river. Fingers crossed it was an early recce by one of Brandon's regular nesting waders (the oystercatchers apparently having been back for 10 days or so).

Oh, and one last thing. If you're an occasional visitor to Brandon, or even a seasoned regular, you might find the excellent Brandon Googlemap prepared by Keith Yates of interest:. He is the author of the Birding Afloat blog and a regular with the conservation team at Brandon, so is well placed to help you find some of the less well-known corners of this excellent reserve ps. if you read this Keith, I suspect we spoke on Sunday morning for quite some time without either of us knowing the other!

Bird of the day: Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula), a small and distinctively marked wading bird which has increasingly moved inland and taken advantage of flooded gravel pits like Brandon for its summer breeding grounds.

1 comment:

Keith said...

Hi Hornet, thanks for your kind words on my google map.
Yes indeed we did meet in the hide and in the tearoom where I think you devoured a full english? I'm the tall handsome one who never shuts up :)
Can't believe your so unlucky with the Bitterns, and as you say just prior to your arrival the best views ever of one!!