Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Early Morning Aigrettes

When I went to the Ivy North hide to open up I found the great white egret fishing in the channel just in front of the hide. Although the light was poor I decided to try and get a few pictures. It was just possible to angle the telescope to view through the side window, so I could see the bird, all I had to do then was set the camera so that the action of the bird was stilled and the contrast did not lead to the white plumage flaring. I took sixty odd shots and got three half decent ones, two of which are below. It is now in breeding plumage and has the long aigrettes, which are the long wispy plumes that grow down the back. Unlike little egret or grey heron they do not have head plumes.The aigrettes were much used in the Victorian and Edwardian fashion trade to adorn ladies hats. The head feathers of great crested grebe were also used as were many exotic species, especially humming-birds, the trade in which resulted in the import of hundreds of thousands of tiny corpses, sometimes used whole to "fly" around a hat. The excesses of this trade in feathers lead directly to the start of what in time became the RSPB. Before I left the hide I checked to the left in case the bittern was there and there it was, also fishing, although it slunk off into the vegetation, so even if the light had allowed there was no chance of a picture.

The 2 smew were reported from Rockford Lake again today, although the young drake flew over to Ivy Lake and was still there at the end of the day when I went over to lift a stranded mute swan over the fence on the Rockford path. The swans get stuck here because they land on Ivy Lake and get chased off by the very aggressive cob, if they do not have the wit to fly off they end up forced off the lake and so stuck on the path, unable to get through the fence onto Rockford Lake. There was also a report of 2 black-necked grebe on Ivy Lake this afternoon, but despite having a pretty good look I could not find them.

At the very end of the day I went to the Goosander hide to count the goosander roost, at least 155 came in, along with the female red-breasted merganser.

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