Even though there have been roost counts of up to three bittern in the park (this is about half of what we had last year but that coincides with a mild winter across northern Europe) sighting had been few and far between for a few weeks at Fishers Green, home to the Bittern Watchpoint. Plenty of Smew, Goosander and Water Rail but only glimpses of Bittern.
|Water levels have been crazily high.|
Without much forethought, I headed past the toilet block hesitating briefly before deciding I would be okay not going. Too much information? Tough. More Redwings. In fact, more hundreds; possibly the same hundreds I had seen earlier but how would anyone know? A Green Woodpecker laughed at me as I negotiated the near river that had once been a road leading to the Sailing Club. Song Thrushes were everywhere and squadrons of cormorants flew over in every direction. On what was left of the goose fields, Canada Geese, a few Greylags and a pair of Egyptian Geese grazed on the small oasis’ of green grass that the rainwaters had failed to swallow.
Up at the Grand Weir there wasn’t much of a weir. The swollen lake and flood relief had reduced the fall to about 2 feet and a few Tufted Ducks were clearly wondering how much fun it might be to glide over the edge. None did but the thought was there. Wigeon were on the lake but no sign of anything special so I left and headed back to the car park. A female Bullfinch called from the wrong side of the hedgerow so not to allow a photo. Clatterings of Jackdaws swooped and soared past, heading for the farm.
Robins and Dunnocks competed for vocal of the day and a pair of Jays chased through the trees. I opened up the information point and there were two birders in the hide. No sign of the Bittern but one had been seen a few times the previous day so you never know.... A Water Rail squealed and then shot across one of the channels...everyone else missed it.
Now, at this stage it’s probably worth stating that I had forgotten to bring the shoe for my tripod and therefore any semi grown up hopes to photograph a Bittern were distant. The Bittern Watchpoint does have scopes and I did play with these for a while to see if I could just place my little Nikon over the eyepiece and get any shots or indeed, anything.
|So this was pretty rubbish.|
But I thought if a Bittern came along, it would be better than nothing. A Bittern came along.
I saw it first. A shape moving slowly through the left hand reed bed towards open water. I let everyone know once I was sure it wasn’t a duck or something equally embarrassing – it has happened. So cameras started to click away and it was too much for me. Out came my little old compact and I eyed the scope. Was it worth the hassle I wondered but I had already got up and grabbed the scope before anyone had a chance to steal it from me. Of douse when you’re under pressure, it seems you can never get anything in the camera viewfinder. Worse still, the stupid bird kept moving albeit slowly through the reeds. "It’s coming out" some excitable woman with a 500mm lens proclaimed. "Lovely" I said still trying focus on the bird and balance the camera. I got an image and just started blindly shooting.
|Not too bad I suppose|
|A more unusual angle.|
|No telescope this time just a bit of optical zoom on my Nikon 6500S.|
The funny thing is everyone who saw it thanks us (the volunteers) as if we had something to do with it. Haha, we just turn up and sit around all day pointing out stuff. But it would be cool to have an App for the iPhone that did a pied piper thing on a bittern. That would remove the hassle of trying to find the little focker.