Saturday, 23 May 2015

Little Bit More....

I've never seen a Little Bittern in the UK so I was very tempted to take a visit to Lakenheath Fen just a Cranes stride or two out of the Ely10.  I had spoken to Ben yesterday and knew it was likely to be a long game but decided when the alarm went off at 4 this morning that it would be a chance worth pushing myself out of bed for.  I took my bike to increase my time in situ as I only had a few hours of the early morning free.  I freewheeled past booming Bitterns and reeling Grasshopper Warblers, remembering the many hours I have spent over the years amidst these rattling poplar plantations awash with memories of fluting Oriole song, alas no more I fear.  A new sound however in this corner of olde England and one that may become more familiar over the next 25 years, the bark of a Little Bittern punctuating through the fenland warbler song.  I managed to capture some on my phone.

After a pleasant 3hr vigil that I guess was more akin to fishing or possibly monastic retreat than birding, a verb which has a vibrancy that suggests action and driving purpose, I did see the diminutive Bittern fly across the small channel and even saw it for a second or three sat in the reeds before it dropped down into the foliage to continue it's territorial proclamations.  I have seen Little Bitterns better, much better in fact, this picture taken with one hand while the other held this beauty caught during a ringing session in Israel a decade ago.

Equally exciting was a re-discovery on the way home from Lakenheath and back within the Ely10.  I decided to have a look at an old farmhouse and yard where Tree Sparrows had bred.  I don't think that I'd looked there for 5 years so was expecting to be disappointed.  I was greeted by a very healthy amount of Tree Sparrow chirruping and at least 6 birds including at least 2 birds going in and out of nest holes.  My heart was cheered.


Further cheer was provided with ploverly shenanigans at the puddle along Queen Adelaide Way where a smart male Little Ringed Plover displayed heroically to the "resident" female.  A second bird appeared which I think is maybe a first year male and our male chased him off but once at the edge of the territory they started feeding around each other, a case of keeping your enemies close I guess unless the intruder is a very well marked female in which case our handsome fella is a cad.

 our handsome fella
HF on the left with the "resident" female
HF on the right with intruder - 1st yr male?? on the left