Saturday, October 13, 2007

Oooh oooh oooh

We'd promised ourselves another walk around the nature reserve at Pitsford and decided for Saturday morning as it's the quietest part of the weekend. When we got to the car park there were only a few hardy joggers about.

The weather defied the forecast and was stuck between light drizzle and something a bit wetter, without making up its mind so photography was going to be tricky.

On the way up to Scaldwell Bay we saw at least three Stonechats, mostly perched atop reeds by the waters' edge. In the Scaldwell Bay we saw at least five (Northern) Pintail ducks, including this group of three, the drake is easily distinguished by the very white neck and dark head:

Right in front of the next hide, I snapped this Ruddy Duck female, diving for food (there were a good twenty Ruddy Ducks on the reserve):

Also in plentiful numbers, alongside the Teal, Wigeon, Pochard and Tufted Ducks, were a number of Gadwalls, including this drake:

and this juvenile, note the orange beak colourings:

We stopped in the West Hide to finish our tea, disturbing a small flock of Redwings on the way in, they were feeding in the berry trees by the hides, and watched this Little Grebe splash across the water in front of the hide, before settling to a more sedate passage:

Beyond the West Hide, and in the area between Scaldwell Bay and Walgrave Bay the Herons were quite agitated. They were calling much more than normal and there were many more visible than we normally see. Helen spotted it first, there was a bright-white Heron sized bird, with a yellow beak and black legs. As the light was bad and the bird was constantly on the move, being harassed by the Herons, it was very hard to get a decent photograph but I did manage one as it took off:

From this picture coupled with the size of the bird and the reaction of the 'locals' we knew it had to be a Great White Egret, a rare but annual vagrant to Great Britain. We've never seen one before. Seeing this bird here at Pitsford was very very exciting. It's certainly the rarest bird we've seen both in Northamptonshire and at Pitsford and it validated our decision to go out in quite lousy weather. I managed another snap of the bird settled but out of focus before it was off again, heading back into the bay area and away from us:

Having confirmed by double-checking the photos with the images and the description in our field guide we decided we had to let the Northants bird group know as we knew how badly we'd want to know! We don't have any 'bird report' type contact details, and as the bird was almost exactly halfway round the nature reserve, we decided to route-march to the fishing lodge to let them know first then headed back along the causeway to the car, covering approx. 3 1/2 miles in an hour. What an exciting morning!

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