Monday, 13 December 2010


I was lucky enough to bump into Alan Woodcock down at New Hythe today. Until then my visit had been fairly uneventful really, but that soon changed. Alan had just spotted a Bittern in the reeds on Abbey Mead, it was well hidden but I managed to get a sight of it after a bit of searching. As I watched it I noticed a fairly large bird fly into a reed bed a bit further along the lake. This turned out to be a second Bittern which we were both delighted about, two Bittern within about 100 yards of each other on our local patch. How good is that, especially after my encounter with one last week. To get a slightly better view and a record shot we walked around the side of the lake and crossed a small stream which gave us a view straight across to the reeds where the second bird could be seen a bit more clearly. But not very clearly as the picture below shows! Left clicking it will help. After a bit of a chat we went our separate ways feeling pretty pleased with ourselves, Alan crossing the stream and retracing his steps and me following the little used footpath to return to the car park. But there was more excitement to come for me. I had only walked fifty or sixty yards when to my astonishment I found a third Bittern! It was right next to me in the reeds not fifteen feet away. It had obviously seen me and was relying on it's camouflage to stay hidden instead of flying off in panic as a Heron had done further back along the path. This was by far the best view i've had of a Bittern and luckily I had the camera out and was able to take a few pictures before, unfortunately the bird decided that discretion was the better part of valour and made it's exit. So, three Bitterns in about twenty minutes, it doesn't get much better than that, especially in your own back yard so to speak, and who knows how many more there are on the site at the moment. Other birds seen before the trio of Bitterns included a Green Sandpiper which flew over the edge of Brooklands towards the river giving it's distinctive call. A couple of Lapwings along the edge of the river and a probable Redshank which flew up in the distance. Four Bullfinches in various places along the river. Two Kingfishers, one on Abbey Mead and one at the top end of Streamside, which is still frozen solid. A couple of Siskin in the Alder trees adjacent to Streamside. A Sparrowhawk that cruised silently along the stream at the southern edge of the East scrub, and three Goldcrests around the edges of Abbey Mead lake.

Finally, I couldn't help noticing how quiet the sunken marsh seemed today, I hardly saw anything in the area apart from much reduced numbers of Redwings. Could the picture below, taken just inside the marsh along the footpath have anything to do with it??


Warren Baker said...

Bittern Bonanza indeed Phil - crickey 3 of 'em!

I take the last pic. would be an illegal shooter - wankers!

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Three is just being downright greedy !
What a brilliant find , well done the pair of you . That reedbed has always looked so good .
I feel another trespass coming on !

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Forgot to ask .
Re. the shot with the red arrows , are you related to Adam Whitehouse ?

Phil said...

No I think about three people hold shooting rights from Townsend Hook mill who I believe own the ground.

Good luck with the trespass! And no i'm not related to Adam, I just like his style!

Bob Bushell said...

B----y marvellous Bittern. More of them Phil. And the last photo is a bad sign, I would like to do the same to them, but I cant.

Adam said...

What a fantastic day - Bittern photos are brilliant! Nice to know someone's emulating my style with ;-)


PS where you tread on my patch!

alan woodcock said...

Nice pics Phil.

The Early Birder said...

Just makes you wonder how many more might be lurking unseen in any stretch of reedbed.

Ken. said...

Hi Phil.
Great photo's. I will email you about a idea I had while I was down there today.

Anonymous said...

It`s a wonder you were able to focus the camera on that bird Phil. Well captured shots of what shows how difficult it is to pinpoint one of these beauties from a distance.

JRandSue said...

Lucky you Phil,great capture,superb shots.
not an easy bird to photograph,or get close to.

ShySongbird said...

I know I'm struggling to keep up at the moment but have no idea how I missed out on your last post :( what amazing photos of the Bittern. I have to admit I have never seen one!

The photos on this post are brilliant too, it seems to have you set in the last one and I had to laugh at the one with the name and arrows :)

Not a bit impressed with the cartridges though. I know what I would like to do to those individuals but perhaps best not to say!

Paul said...

Very nice Bittern photos Phil, as are the other pics on your previous post too. Ive yet to see a Bittern in the flesh myself, but who knows now, with more than one in the area, it might just happen.