03 November 2010

American Bittern and Green Heron.

I really, really wanted to go, but didn't want to admit to myself how much I wanted to go. Inevitably, I went. Departure from Gloucester at 0530hrs, arrival back in Gloucester 2030hrs.

The weather - all day - ranged from threatening to rain, to actually raining. Fortunately, it was only threatening whilst I was with the American Bittern (year list 207; lifer 220). This made waiting outside the hide (0830ish to 0930ish) tolerable. The bird spent it's time in an area north west of the Tower Hide (an excellent hide), so good views from both ends of the hide were not possible.

Still, I thought that behaviour inside was pretty good. Once those at the front had seen it well, they generally moved on allowing others access to the front. It wasn't a quick process, but it seemed to work. I was concerned that a front of serious-types would monopolise the good views, but happily not so. At least, this was the impression I got. In addition, those with scopes already set up were good enough to let those yet to get that far glimpse the bird to alleviate any fears of it buggering off just as they made it into the hide! There was perhaps a little frustration about at not being able to pick it up through bins, but this was because it was only possible to search with one's scope it if you were seated, or had a good perch at the best end of the back wall. If you were waiting your turn, and thus still standing with only bins, it was impossible not to feel a little anxious.

The bird was quite settled, though, and by the time I made it to the 'front benches' (1015hrs) I enjoyed a good views as the bird moved slowly left along the ditch it was favouring (juncus, juncus, juncus, red leaves, juncus!). I'd had a nice view. Conscious that others were as keen to see it as I was, and conscious of my plans for the rest of the day, I fired off a few lousy photographs (compiled below) and skedaddled.

It seems it stayed out in the open for a bit longer after I left (about 1045hrs), but didn't come any closer - at least until the afternoon when good views were had from both hides. In retrospect arriving later in the day might've been a good move as the crowds (myself included) all turned up early morning. Still, I am happy with what I saw... but envious of those who can easily go again!

Whether you get a long view, or a shorter one, provided you are patient the bird is obliging.

Also, thank-you to the CBWPS for letting the public in to see the bird, and shame on those who didn't stick a couple of quid in the collecting bucket. Judging by the number of people present, and the amount of money in the bucket, lots of people just didn't bother.

Next stop was The Lost Gardens of Heligan, and their resident cash cow - I mean, Green Heron (year list 208; lifer 221). Easy to find, as the rain reached it's peak for the day, around the edge of the top pond. Lovely scope views were a doddle to obtain. No real light for photographs, but I took some for the record (they're all very dark!).

All done by 1330hrs.

There were three hours of useful daylight remaining... enough time to get to Berry Head and have an hour on site. The main motivation was the possibility of Cirl Buntings. Alas, I saw none. Indeed, the fare from both ends of the peninsula was poor. No good warblers in the wood, and only Gannets, gulls, Fulmars, a Kittiwake, Cormorants from the end. Possibly a couple of small Skuas but I'm not skilled enough at sea watching to be sure. A good spot, though, for sure - made pleasant (even without any good birds) by the weather finally breaking and some late sunshine. I enjoyed looking accross the bay to Exmouth, where I could see the brightly coloured beach huts - one of which we use when visiting the town.

Should've gone back to see the Bittern again, though, really! Would probably have gotten some better views of it, but I would also have got home much much later than I did. I was really VERY tired on the long drive home, so from a common sense point of view stopping at Berry Head (essentially on the way home) was not the worst idea in the world.

All things considered a successful day, and one that helps dim the memory of dipping the Lesser Kestrel (my other long twitch this year).

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