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.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Don’t be careful what you wish for...just be sure.

Normally I take an early morning walk around the Lee Valley at Fisher’s Green on my own, before going on duty. Today was different. Today was special. The powers at LVP are always looking for new volunteers and are always asking how and why we (volunteers) do it in order to get an insight on how they can persuade others to join the team. well, the answer is simple; volunteers form close friendships with other volunteers and this means days like this.

Instead of my normal insular walk, I was joined by my good and generous friends Brenda and Jo. We met at Fisher’s Green before most people are even awake and enjoyed a bracing 3 hour walk around the park pretty much to ourselves before taking up duties at the Bittern information Point.

50 shades of Grey Wagtail.
We made our to the Grebe hide, a trail I often take and stopped at the vantage point that look across the Grand Weir. Now, I have only ever seen a Grey Wagtail once in this park...back in some forgotten year but we were lucky enough to find one enjoying insects close to where we were.

It could just call the number rather than shout.

Would I have seen this beautiful wagtail on my own? I doubt it. Just a change to ones routine can sometimes throw the routine into the random. We lapped it up.

We looked for any late Goosanders but none were seen. Grey herons seemed to be everywhere along with Great Crested Grebes and Cormorants.

Grey Heron
From the Grebe hide, we backtracked and took the path to Hooks Marsh. We checked the concrete bridge and walked into the world of Disney. There were Dunnocks, Robins, Chaffinches, Mallards and a Squirrel all coming together on the top of the bridge as we stood there.

Mind you, these ladies can talk. I tried to focus on the world around me but also had to learn to hear above the conversation for the bird calls...so I learned a new skill I suppose. (Joking ladies, joking)

Jo then found the find of the day. A pair of Long-tailed Tits had started to build a nest and we stopped to watch them at work. I couldn’t focus on the build but my camera and me have a way to go yet in terms of building our own relationship!

As 10am approached, we said our goodbyes to Jo who unfortunately wasn’t on duty today (something she will have to live with for some time to come I expect) and Brenda and myself prepared for a day in the information point.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Lee Valley or the Information Point, dedicated to the Bittern God, we have had a pretty meagre year with said Bittern. It has shown but often only fleeting views or obscured views so we didn’t expect or imagine what would unfold, only wish for.

To be blunt, it was like f***ing Pinocchio. Brenda had only just opened the shutters to the hide before she brilliantly shouting but in a whisper 'Bittern...Bittern...It’s showing!" The Dream was coming true.

We grabbed cameras and our hopes but the damn bird showed a tail and disappeared back into the reed bed. Well at least we knew it was there and where it was. We settled down for the inevitable.

The inevitable is written in birding law and a page written on this blog many times this year in the valley. Fleeting moments of Bittern punctuated by hours of rhetorical discourse around the appearance or non-appearance of the bird.

Well bugger me!

Yes, just try creeping past without being seen!

Water Rail did the warm-up act
Do you know what, I get it. People come to the BIP to see the Bittern, get a pic etc but unless you really believe in it...in other words, spend the whole day getting cold and hungry, reed-blind and depressed, you won't get these shots. I’m so lucky. I volunteer. I have to be there and I’m lucky to have other volunteers who are happy to operate the remote cameras, serve coffee and feed any passing dogs while I do my thing. But then, that is what friends do. Friends like Kevin, another volunteer  and a saint. He’s always there to cover and do the stuff in the nerve centre but he will still do a 9 second, 100 metres, to tell me about a Treecreeper just outside the centre. Love him for that.

It was totally a dream come true today. We even had a docile Jay in the picnic area that was happy for its picture to be taken and used in this blog.

Jay walking it.

So, wish for the things you want the most but never overlook the things that make you really happy.
And in my case, it isn’t the Bittern; it’s my friends – I couldn’t wish for any better.

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