This afternoon I decide to go and do a bit of bittern watching at Streamside. I parked at the water works entrance and walked the short distance to the "usual" spot at about 15.15 in the late afternoon sunshine. I was hoping that this corner of the lake might be unfrozen by now so was a bit disappointed to find that only the margins on the millstream corner were ice free and the reedbed was still frozen solid. Not much chance of a bittern but I decided that since I was there I'd make the most of it for half an hour.
The only water birds I could see close by were a shoveler further down on the opposite bank and a couple of coots diving for weed in the near margins. There was of course the endless stream of wood pigeons and magpies going about their business over the lake and a jay flew over higher than I normally see them. I could hear a few chaffinchs calling in the nearby trees, a greenfinch also joined in but wasn't seen and a blackbird sat motionless on a nearby branch watching me curiously it seemed. The only other sounds were the voices of the dog walkers and cyclists fading away with the last of the suns rays. I scanned the length of the lake again and picked up a large bird heading towards me at treetop height which I thought first of all was a heron, but as it got nearer and the sunlight revealed it's fantastic plumage, I realised that it was a bittern! I watched it glide, wings outstretched, and land silently in the back of the reedbed. Absolutely magic!
Just a quick update on the tagged marsh harrier mentioned in the previous post. I have had a reply from the people monitoring the ten tagged chicks from Sheppey. This is only the second bird reported away from north Kent, the other one was sighted going to roost at Icklesham on 10th October 2009 and also had a tag missing so is probably the same bird.