I couldn’t chose my trip. It was decided the minute I volunteered to man the information point at the Lee Valley. I love it. I prefer it when the sun shines and unfortunately, the sun was nursing a huge hangover from the previous nights celebrations. In its place we had driving rain, blustery winds and a chill that went straight to the depths of your damp bones.
|A rather soggy goose field|
Most of the park’s species of duck were in attendance. Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall and Tufted Ducks were by the weir and frankly, enjoying the weather paddling in the flooded pools across the goose fields.
What is with rain or most specifically, with rain and wind. When they combine, they nearly always contrive to make their unwelcome way through the pillar box windows of the bittern hide. This makes it uncomfortable to sit for any period of time looking for Water Rail or Bittern. Optics get wet and unmanned windows are shut, blocking that extra light and visibility.
There was a nice drake Smew but distant and a couple of Water Rail teased everyone by dashing across the water channels giving only the briefest of glimpses. It was all new for the year but was actually just the same birds we saw the last time we were here. Didn’t feel very fresh or new.
Then, just as we started to think about giving up and closing the joint, the Bittern appeared slowly from the reed bed. And this time, instead of moving across quickly and disappearing for the day, this bird stopped and put on a simple display and gave us a chance to get a few shots of it as it watched the sky from the back of the reeds.
The rain and the wind and the cold were instantly forgotten. It’s funny what a bird can do. It causes birders endless hours of waiting, no shows and embarrassing mis-identifications with clumps of reeds but still, when it shows, we forgive it all that. Clever bird the Bittern.