Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas came early ......

One of the advantages of visiting the in-laws (there are other less selfish ones too), is the fact that I can leave Kay with her mum doing things and have a few guilt free hours nature watching. Just before Christmas I grabbed the chance to go back to Potteric Carr Nature reserve while they were 'doing' the Lakeside Outlet Centre!

A dull day was lightened when the warden told me a water rail had been showing at a feeding station near one of the hides, so I went and camped there for a couple of hours.

First visits were from the usual suspects

but then the first of the new birds for me appeared

After some discussion it was agreed this was probably a female golden pheasant, and a look at my books would seem to confirm this. Far from the right habitat though.

Then the moment I had been waiting for

I have heard the squealing cry of water rails many times at Newport Wetlands, but this was my first clear view. Although shy it did eventually venture out into the open a bit more.

Sad though I was to miss the chance of leafing through M&S leftovers (!) the visit had been a good choice. However there was another bird they told me was around which left me wanting more.

But that can wait .............

Walking the dog at Clumber Park provided some fair views of shy goosanders

and better ones of the local ducks. In my experience to date a close contact with tufted duck is rare, so it was pleasing to get this shot, whilst the mallard and coot were just sort of cute.

In the light of what I had been told at Potteric Carr I persuaded Kay our journey home could be postponed until later in the day giving me chance to return to try my luck.

Initially the herons in view were all of the standard grey variety.....

but then I went into a hide to find a guy gesticulating furiously for me to be quiet and move slowly. It took me a liitle while to spot the target of my return visit, demonstrating the reason for the bird's plumage and behaviour - even though it is centre of the frame you might find youself doing a double take before you pick it out. If you still don't get it click on the picture for a larger version.

But there was no doubt - a sky pointing bittern just a few yards away. I then had the pleasure of watching it for about half an hour, even fishing, sliding it's beak through the reed stems in a quite creepy way, although I didn't see it catch anything. Brilliant - a bog bumper at last. You can click on the photos if you want to see slightly larger versions.

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