I met up with Ken from Halling at about 14.30 this afternoon and we had a very pleasant couple of hours around the western side of New Hythe lakes i.e. the Lunsford Lane side of the railway line. The objective was to try and catch up with the streamside bittern again, it becomes a bit of an addiction after a while.
We started off along the towpath between the Alders lakes, there were a lot of birds on the big lake but we couldn't see anything out of the ordinary, one or two jays were noted before arriving at the windsurfing lake which held it's usual assortment of coot, grt crested grebe, tufties, swans etc etc. Then through the west scrub where a small flock of fieldfare were feeding in the hawthorns and then onto the east scrub where we had a quick look at the floating platform in the ditch which has been placed there to monitor the possible presence of mink , which were reported to the rangers a couple of times through the year and which would obviously pose a threat to the water vole population on the site. I believe the platform holds a small bed of clay which is checked periodically ( I hope) to see if the mink have left evidence of their presence by leaving their footprints on it, at least I think that's the idea. The rest of the east scrub was pretty quiet apart from a couple more fieldfares and a few redwings, there was however a few pied wagtails over which were all heading to roost towards the trading estate at the bottom of New Hythe, we wondered if this would be where Alan Woodcock recently reported a large roost of these birds?
And so to streamside where we stood and scanned for bittern in the rapidly failing light. While here we had fly pasts of kingfisher, more pied wags all heading in the same direction as the previous birds and a water rail went past almost unnoticed in the margins where we stood and was heard calling a little later from the reedbed. The light had all but gone now and with no sight of the bittern it was nearly time to head back, but then it came, suddenly entering from stage right with a short flight to the middle of the reedbed where we could see it for a couple of minutes before exiting stage right again with another short flight...............mission accomplished!