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.