Volunteering and bitterns

As I mentioned in the last post, I was volunteering at Old Moor today, at the Big Garden Birdwatch event. I had a great time showing people the garden birds from the educational hide by the bird feeders, and it was brilliant to see people so interested. It was also interesting to spend a lot of time in one hide and see what arrived throughout the day – the bullfinches, tree sparrows and willow tits were some of the bird highlights of the day, and the most surprise visitor was a weasel, which scurried past the feeders and into the bushes!

Walking round the reserve at lunchtime, I tried to see if I could get any yearticks, but failed miserably except for greylag goose, although there were some interesting wildfowl around, including shelducks and goosanders. After the event had finished, I had a pop up to the reedbeds to see if I could spot the bittern. My hopes weren’t high, but it would be one of the few times I’d be up there around dusk, when I was told the bittern flew in to roost.

I stood with my binoculars poised, ready to set in for a vigil as it got dark. A rather serious birdwatcher passed me, knew immediately what I was looking for, and informed me I probably wouldn’t see one, as no-one had seen it since last Tuesday. Slightly daunted, I still stood my ground. Not knowing quite where the bittern would come from, I realised I was quickly pointing my bins at anything that moved, be it completely dissimilar birds like shelducks and gulls, or even passing motorcyclists on the dual carriage way.

And then, a flying brown bird caught my eye at some distance. I remained calm, half expecting it to be something dull like a female pheasant. But it was flying too high. And gliding too much. And was holding its head too much like a heron. Yes, albeit a brief and distant view as it came to land in the reedbeds, I’d finally seen a bittern!


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My name is Pete

5 thoughts on “Volunteering and bitterns”

  1. I think it’s because they sometimes have such a competitve nature they’re genuinely pleased when they see something and other people don’t. Competetive birdwatching is such a daft concept – the only thing I’m bothered about is beating my own numbers from the previous year!

    I also like the arrogance there that if you arrive at Blacktoft you’re only interested in the same (let’s face it, rather dull to look at) rarity that he is, and not down for a good view of the avocets, black-tailed godwits, marsh harriers and bearded tits etc, that some of us still manage to be excited by, whether we’ve ticked them off our lists before or not.

  2. By the way, I saw on SBSG that there have been some crossbills recorded at Redmires. I saw a flock of 14 there on Saturday afternoon, and I also heard but didn’t see some there the Sat before. The flock I saw on Sat was on the edge of the conifer woods that runs along the track that goes up from the reservoirs to Stanage Pole and Stanage edge.

  3. I’m braving the rain (probably) and getting out for a longish walk on Sunday, and was toying with catching a 51 and going to the general Redmires/Wyming Brook area. That may sway it for me…

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