Birders waiting until darkness falls, for a glimpse of the Little Bittern!
With Blakeney Point on Sunday, a late night and a hard day at work on Bank Holiday Monday, I was not ready to rise at dawn this morning! Stayed in editing photos and doing some important jobs. News of a possible Eastern Bonelli's Warbler at Hickling Broad NWT got the heart racing, but was eventually confirmed as a 'Western' and in any case was only around for twenty minutes. I was going to stay in all day, but decided with the lovely sunshine it was wicked to stay indoors.
So on the spur of the moment, I decided that I really should go and visit the Little Bittern at Lakenheath Fen RSPB. It's only 28 miles from my house and it didn't take long to get there. As soon as I turned up in the car park, Geoff and Pat had just arrived back at their car. Pat said they had been standing there ALL day waiting to see the Little Bittern, but their patience paid off eventually and they saw the bird fly at around 4.20pm.
It's a long walk to Joist Fen Viewpoint! I heard Cetti's, Sedge and Reed Warblers on route and saw several Cuckoo's, Common Terns, Hobbies and a Marsh Harrier. A Bittern was also booming! The highlight was a Spotted Flycatcher with a Great Spotted Woodpecker on the dead trees just before you veer off left to view Joist Fen. I joined the small crowd of birders at just before 6pm to wait.... and wait and wait! The Little Bittern was singing the entire time, tantalisingly close, frustratingly close – I almost wished I hadn't come here! Ok I don't actually mean that, as this reserve is fabulous and I was seeing some good birds, but standing in one place for so long is not my thing! It doesn't do your back any good, your feet any good or your mind any good! You start to imagine anything that moves is the Little Bittern!
Waiting for the Little Bittern to appear.
We were serenaded by Reed Buntings, Sedge and Reed Warblers, Cuckoos burbling and singing, a Bittern boomed and the Little Bittern carried on 'barking', sometimes moving a little further away and then returning close to us again, but STILL not showing! Several Swifts overhead and a Great Crested Grebe was on the fen. People shuffled about, stretched their backs and still stuck it out, a few did leave though. The midges were attacking like there was no tomorrow! The sun set at just before 9pm and still we hadn't seen this bird! I photographed a Common Tern against the pink skies. Cuckoos were still bombing about and calling. Crows flew across the pink skies, as did a Heron and a couple of Mute Swans. At around 9.13pm I decided to walk a few yards away to where my scope was sitting, to undue my bag to get a sandwich out – I didn't get the chance, as suddenly the Little Bittern got up and flew across over the reedbeds, away from us – at last! We only saw it for moments and as a silhouette, no good for photographs at all – three and a quarter hours later! Also it was far closer to us than we thought, when it got up! Everyone sighed with relief and mused at the fact, that they had stood here all these hours to have a few seconds view of a Little Bittern flying off in the near darkness of the night! It was quite unbelievable that this bird had not flown or shown itself for just under five hours since the last sighting at 4.20pm!
Walked back with other birders – it was cold now, even too cold for the midges. It was dark by the time we all got back to our cars at just before 10pm. Got back to King's Lynn at 10.45pm. Went to the supermarket and filled up with fuel, ready for tomorrow. So, sorry there are no stonking pictures of a Little Bittern from me, not even a smudge on the camera, only Common Terns against pink skies and a Reed Warbler singing!
When I pulled into my street this evening at 11.15pm, I had to stop to fold both side mirrors of my car in, to get between two parked cars before I even tackled my drive!!! Must be someone new in the street, someone who presumes that everyone that lives in this street follows a 'normal' life. Well I don't and I may want to leave in the dark in the morning, which means again, I have to fold my mirrors in to get out of the bloody street. I really, really can't wait to move from here! Good night!
MORE PICTURES TO BE ADDED