03 August 2009

132 - a lucky number?

Almost a year ago I posted a blog here about how I’d finally added Little Egret to my Derbyshire birding list and that the Egret was also species 132 on my 2008 “10-Mile List”. Well, 132 must be a lucky number for me, or Willington Gravel Pits is my lucky site!

Yesterday morning I had planned on getting up early and going out birding. In the end I stayed in bed until after 9:00AM and just couldn’t be bothered with the prospect of flooded paths, mud and a lack of birds! Staying at home and doing a bit of work on one of my bikes held much more of an attraction for me - that was until I received a next message from one of the county's most active birders. A Bittern had been seen at Willington Gravel Pits! It took me less than half an hour to gather together my telescope, bins and camera and drive to the reserve.

I had to wait for over an hour for the Bittern to show but when it did I was far from disappointed - the bird did two separate fly-pasts, high above the main pit, before deciding to settle in the reed bed. The views were by far the best I’d ever had of a Bittern and it was my first for Willington. It was also a new species for the “10-Mile List”, number 132. I was one happy chap.

By now it was approaching mid-day and I was starting to think of getting home so I could work on the bike - the Bittern had other ideas. Just as I was about to leave it climbed out of the reeds and started to walk about in the open! This was too good to be true! I’ve seen a few of these birds over the years but never before have I seen one show so well, it was more like watching a Grey Heron.

I did get a few photos but they didn’t turn out too well, I blame the strong breeze that was blowing for the blurred images. It had nothing to do with my hands shaking with excitement! Well, I don’t think it did!

At first it's just a head...

... then the whole bird!

Then it went walk-about!

The “10-Mile List” is now just 5 species short of beating last years total - maybe it can be done, maybe not. Oh, and the bike did get it’s chain, gears and rear mech. cleaned and serviced later in the afternoon too! Not a bad result all-in-all!