My morning was fairly quiet at the London Wetland Centre, as you'll see from my second blog post from the day, but mid afternoon it all went a bit crazy.
Martin Parker, Joe Davison and John Cass were near the Wildside Hide at about 2.30pm, Philip Giles was in the pond dipping area and I was looking for lizards near the Dulverton Hide. I had just spotted Philip when his phone rang, and he quickly gave me the nod that a 'Night Heron' had been spotted by Martin, John and Joe. Minutes later my phone rang with the same news from John Cass.
A very fast half run-half walk around to the wildside and we found the others scanning the reed beds along the second channel. The bird had flown in to them minutes before but Joe had managed to get a photo before it took flight. Examining the photo the conclusion was this was no Night Heron, but a stunning full breeding plumage male Little Bittern....
|photo by Joe Davison|
As the news spread we were joined by several members of the LWC staff, David and June, Therese, Lawrence and some others. We spread out. Some of us went back in to the Wildside Hide to look down in to the channels, others stayed on the bridge. I shuffled from channel to channel and was right next to Lawrence when he called out and there was this stunning small bird just in front of us. It had climbed to the tops of the reeds, just like our winter visiting Bitterns often do just before they take off. And so it took off again. No-one managed any photos that time, and tracking the bird as it flew was difficult as it disappeared from view behind a large tree.
Again we all split up trying to relocate the bird. I went in to the Headley Discovery Hide and Philip went round to the Dulverton Hide. A short while later my phone rang and it was Philip confirming he had the bird in his sight. Another quick half-run, half-walk trek back to where I had been when the Little Bittern was first spotted.
It was very distant now across the main lake, but it's light colour and splendid orangey-red beak made it very easy to spot through my bins. For a few minutes we all saw the bird until it suddenly dropped down in to the reeds. From there I made my way to the top floor of the Observatory but it didn't show again for the last half an hour. It was spotted again by Martin Honey after I had left, and it was heading back to the wildside channels.
But what a find ! Well done Martin for spotting the gorgeous bird, and well done Joe on getting a photo. The photo above is an iPhone grab of the back of Joe's camera.