Welcome to my birdwatching blog. This blog will contain stories about my bird watching trips, interesting bird news and other tales that may or may not be bird related. I want to make it useful to the avid birder as well as those who may only have a passing interest in bird watching. I enjoy photographing bird life, common and rare through a spotting scope, not that they always sit still long enough for me. Being on the outskirts of North East London, my reports will not only cover my local patch of Redbridge/Waltham Forest, but also dip into deepest Essex, Suffolk, Kent and Norfolk.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

A Bittern bonanza as the routine goes out the window

Routine. Routine is one of those words that feels a little bad or slightly derogatory. It can describe someone’s life as boring or it can describe things as predicable and by association, unexciting.

Well I have a routine when I volunteer at the Lee Valley Park. It begins with an hour or so walk around a part of the park to see what’s about. Normally I do the same old boring route as I also do a BTO winter thrush survey and have an allotted square kilometre to cover and count the numbers of Fieldfare, Redwing Song Thrush etc in that area. Well today would be different and I don’t know why.

The day began with a beautiful blue sky. The past few weeks had been grey and snow white but there was a real sense of things become mild and nature preparing for spring. Instead of wearing what I normally wear, I donned my box-fresh Lee Valley Fleece and volunteer badge. Not exactly exciting I know but it made me feel more a part of the Park and what they do. Silly but there you go.

Approaching the Bittern Watchpoint
Upon arriving at the Lee Valley Park, I was surprised by the amount of snow and ice still quite prominent here. In some places, the snow was still 4-5 inches deep and the sheet ice made walking around on some of the pathways almost deadly.

Before opening up the Bittern Watchpoint, I took a walk or slide or whatever you want to call it to Friday lake to find Smew. All the lakes had extensive ice covering them and very few wildfowl. I did happen upon a couple of twittering Siskin as I negotiated a rather tricky part of the park which I have now renamed the Cresta run. Even when just standing still and viewing the siskin, I could feel myself sliding sideways as if I was on a conveyor belt.

I opened up the centre and put out the telescopes and binoculars; switched on all the CCTV screens while all the time, keeping one eye on the reedbed for the elusive Bittern.

The usual views you get of a Bittern, if you’re lucky.

The morning went pretty much as it usually did. The odd glimpse of the bittern as it sneaked around at the back of the reeds and a couple of water rail chasing each other around and around in a routine of their own. As it was a sunny day, plenty of people passed through.

Even dogs are allowed in.
Then, in the early afternoon, everything changed. A second Bittern flew in and disappeared into the reeds. 10 minutes later it flew out across the lake and settled, distantly in another part of the park. This must have upset or disturbed our regular bird because it’s routine is to stay at the back and frustrate everyone. However, now it decided to come out of the reeds and give us all incredible views.

Now if the Bittern did this as a matter of routine, routine would become one of the most exciting things that could ever happen.

Oh yes, and on Friday morning I finally managed to see some Waxwings.

Bad shot of waxwings but who cares?
Not you weren’t expecting that were you?

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