Bittern seen at Doffcocker 620pm

I have long wanted to see a bittern in the wild.This species has always eluded me until now. Several visits to Leighton Moss over the years to see such birds as the bearded tit and the bittern failed.

Reports had been  made of a bittern at Doffcocker Lodge in my local town of Bolton. It was, apparently overwintering here.  In fact it was reported to have been seen several times over the last few days.

In fact, I had made brief visits myself over the last couple of days, but once again, the bittern had been frustratingly elusive for me. 

Today however, frustration was about to turn into satisfaction.

Today, I would make a third attempt to see the bird at Doffcocker. It was reported to be regularly showing well around dusk, at the northern  end of the small water body, and as the light failed it would habitually, clamber onto the reeds prior to roost, and show itself well. 

 

The bird had reportedly been showing for the last few nights at dusk so a handful of birders were there on he causeway in readiness and eager expectation, looking towards the reeds at the northern end of the small water body.

No one had seen the bird. It wasn’t showing  I wondered whether this was going to be another disappointment.

However this was not to be the case tonight.  Soon one of the birders  spotted it low down at it’s usual spot.I got the chance to see it through a  ‘scope.Hurrah

 To be honest, though, even though one could just about make out the bird, and consider it to be a “tick”, with the views of the bird bird being largely obscured by the reeds, one felt it was a little unsatisfactory at that point. 

Someone said not to worry and confidently assured me that it would soon show itself more clearly. They said that just before it roosts for the night it will perch on the reeds and we will see it well.

Not long after this  (about 620pm) his words proved true. The light was fading fast. Large numbers of jackdaws were flying in to roost in some trees nearby.  Someone heard a water rail calling, and a wren hopped along the bushes right by us. 

 At this point, as if right on schedule, the bittern started  clambering about up some reeds, as it reportedly had done at this hour on previous evenings. 

Thanks to a kind birder among the eight or so  present, who let me look at it through his telescope, I had the opportunity  to get a nice clear  view of it as it moved about.

Soon I left: not before another birder arrived, and he was also put onto it. He later reported that he saw it fly over to the reeds at the southern part of the pond. By that time though,  I had departed for the day.  

Maybe one day I will also see a bearded tit.

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Three Drake Great Scaup seen at Elton Reservoir

This evening, I was checking the http://www.manchesterbirding.com forum. It was about 645pm. When I clicked on Elton Reservoir, I noted immediately that during the day three drake scaup had been showing.  (Great Scaup)

Immediately I went off to Elton, and arrived there within about fifteen  minutes. The level of the water was unusually low due to some repair work going on.

Very quickly I sighted the three birds. On the first sighting I saw the three drakes diving in unison. A minute or two later I saw exactly the same thing happen. They dove down together

Some ten or fifteen minutes later another birder appeared, and we had a conversation whilst observing the three birds in question.

The “white body with black at each end” was clearly noted on all three birds. Also that the three scaup were a little larger or more sturdy birds than nearby tufted ducks.

After a few minutes the birder and I (he was a long-time Elton regular birder) parted our ways and we both went home.  I was back home within about 75 minutes of when I set off from home.

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This photo is not of one of the birds I saw but this is what they looked like.

The sighting of these three Great Scaup means there have been two lifers this year 2016 so far: Little Tern and Great Scaup

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This is a photograph of the exact same three birds on Elton Reservoir on the day I saw them.

Little Terns at Gronant

On Monday 27th June 2016, I visited the Gronant Nature Reserve near the Presthaven Sands Caravan Park , which is close by to Prestatyn.

It was approximately 7pm, but still there was quite a lot of light due to it being midsummer. No one was around save a middle-aged lady, who after taking a leisurely stroll across ther reserve was on her way home. I asked her where the little tern colony was and she directed me across a boardwalk. This direction I took, and soon I was facing a low ridge behind which was the beach and beyond that the sea. I seemed to have the whole reserve to myself. The place was deserted. The peace and beauty was so enjoyable. At the front of the beach was fairly narrow band of shingle mixed with sand stretching some way along in front of the ridge. The area of shingle stretching across to my left was cordoned off as a protection for the birds against human and animal predators. Numerous little terns were dashing about overhead-some had sandeels in their mouths. Some seemed to stoop at me, as if to warn me away. However, looking at the shingle area in front of me I was not able to see any terns on the ground. This was frustrating as one could not get positive id view from the flyover birds.

However, all was not lost. To my right a hundred meters away was a wardens hut. A small edifice with a telescope set up outside. However there was no one to be seen. I walked over therefore and in the far distance of the shingle area , there I saw the warden working in the nesting area. When he saw me he walked across and we exchanged greetings.

I explained to him that I wanted to see the little terns close up and see the diagnostic id features such as the yellow bill with the black tip and the white forehead.  He kindly said that he would help, and show me the birds through his telescope.

Picking up his scope he beckoned me to come with him and he took me to the area in which he had been working a few minutes previously. Once we were there he set up the scope about five meters from the fence and soon he was showing me close up views of nesting little terns. Some were sitting on chicks whilst over tiny chicks were seen scurrying about the area. The views I had were more than I could have hoped for in my wildest dreams

The warden and I  chatted for a few minutes about the birds, and I thanked him for his kindness.  He said we had better move on now because our continuing proximity to the nesting birds would be a disturbance to them. Taking my leave, I walked back to the car.  The photo below is not one that I took, but it shows what I saw. _89554873_littletern