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!