Last week Keith and I went to the Wetland Centre in West London in search of Bittern and other wintering birds. On our arrival, we went to Dulverton hide on the main lake as this has been where the Bittern has been most frequently seen, but there was no sign of the bird in the reed bed on the opposite side of the lake. We did see a drake Pintail, along with the commoner water birds.
We decided to take a different route to the usual round this part of the reserve and whilst walking near Sheltered Lagoon were rewarded with a flock of Redwing in the trees. Arriving at the Tower, we were struck by how few birds there were on the reserve, probably as a result of much of the water being frozen. However, we did find 2 Water Pipits on the grazing marsh. this is now a regular wintering spot for this species.
Given the sparsity of birds, we decided to return to Dulverton hide to continue to look for the Bittern. We had only been there about 10 minutes when we heard that a Bittern was showing well on a small pool on the north side of the reserve. So, we hot-footed it over there. As we approached the pool, I saw some movement in the reeds and was lucky to see the Bittern disappearing back into the reeds. Keith who was a little way behind me sadly didn’t see it. We waited for some time to see if it would reappear, but it didn’t, although we did hear a Water Rail calling from the reeds and good views of Reed Bunting. So we made our way to the Wildside Hide to look over the reservoir lake, adding Snipe, Wigeon and Green Woodpecker to our list for the day.
The light was going and so we made our way back towards the centre. We did stop off in the collection area to see two new arrivals, a pair of Common Cranes from the breeding programme at the Slimbridge centre.
It was then time to make our way home. It had seemed a quiet day but when I counted up I had seen 42 species. It is surprising sometimes how the species count can mount up even though it doesn’t seem that you have seen many birds.