Tuesday, 4 January 2011

A Bittern Eclipsed

Very dull at the start of the day, I saw almost nothing from the Tern hide first thing as it was too dark. However at the Ivy North hide I quickly found the (a) bittern fishing in the area just left of the hide. It was a very bright brown necked bird with a very dark hind-neck, quite distinctive. It caught a fish and wandered off. Later in the day two were seen at once and it was even suggested that there might have been three present. I could have got a picture had the light been better, it was dull but perhaps the partial eclipse was not helping.

The southern end of Ivy lake was still pretty well frozen over. Near the South hide I spotted a clump of yellow brain fungus on an oak branch, a patch of bright colour in an otherwise grey day.
I did a partial count of the lakes today and incidentally saw 4 white-fronted goose, three adults and a juvenile. These are presumably same as the two pairs and a juvenile seen before Christmas, minus one adult. Since the lost bird was part of a pair it is unlikely to have left, so I assume it has been "Lost in action". The three adults all have really well marked bars on the underparts.
Rockford Lake remains the most densely occupied with hundreds of coot, gadwall and wigeon. There was also a single smew, I would say an immature drake based on size and the very white breast and fore neck. Also there was a ruddy duck, a goosander and a green sandpiper.
At the end of the day I was briefly in the Tern hide and had a quick look at the gulls, to the left of the hide amongst the small gulls was one very odd looking bird, pictured very badly below. It was obviously a little larger than a common gull, but similar in character, but much darker overall than a normal first winter bird. It had a two tone bill like a common gull but somewhat longer and a strong eye mask. The tail seemed all dark and the tertials all dark with very thin pale tips. I confess I do not know what it was, it does not seem to match any species at all well and I can only hope to get a better view over the next few days, it would also be good to see it doing something other than just floating about.

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