Monday, 1 November 2010

American Bittern

Well we did it.
 Left at midnight Saturday, and got down to Zennor and found a place to park just off the road near the pools. Had about an hours kip before it got light.
 Joined the growing throng around 6.30am and stood on the roadside overlooking the gorse, rush/sedge beds and pool. It was rather chilly. We had a few birds over the next couple of hours-one Buzzard walking among the cows, assorted crows and some flyover Golden Plovers. LIke most of the crowd, started to get a bit despondent when it failed to show around 8 ish which seemed to be about the time it usually left the roost. Some thought it had gone, perhaps down to Zennor where there seems to be better habitat.
 Had a scan of the crowd and spotted Jan and William-they got down too late on Saturday, missed bird, including an amazing the Peregrine attack and had to find a place to stay overnight. Had a chat with them for a bit and carried on with the vigil.
 At just after nine, I went back to them and we watched a group apparently investigating the farm track and got a bit worried that they might go in. Luckily that did not happen and soon after the cows came down to the pool and through the rushes. As the Bittern did not fly, we assumed it had definitely gone and one guy-with almost unanimous approval (someone said if it was flushed he would not even look despite having spent loads of money on the long journey) went to the back of the pool to investigate.
 He had not gone far when the Bittern suddenly flew out-he was quite a way from the bird at the time. We all managed to get good views in bins and scopes. Even to the naked eye it appeared a bit smaller and thin billed, and the upper-parts were a lot plainer, paler and the wing trailing edges were also pale buff.
 Got a few shots with the 300mm lens, but had to use a high iso in the poor light.

It flew north, then circled round and headed back, and then dropped into a belt of short pines. Assuming it had dropped down in the filed we went to investigate, but saw nothing. With cows moving through the trees we assumed it had made it's way back to the pools, but just as we were leaving someone spotted it sitting in a tree. It moved back quickly and few got on it.
 Left just after eleven, and being a bit tired, decided not to call in elsewhere and headed home.
 Having just posted my images to Bird Forum, Lee Evans etc, I hear it has been found today on the Camel Estuary where some gripping images have been obtained.

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