So it tends to happen that on productive revision days a rare bird turns up at one of my local sites, and so it was yesterday when a great white egret turned up at Old Moor. Once more, as I had done before I decided to speed off after lectures to try and track it down, only lectures finished later today that I would usually go birding after, so that left a very real possibility that the bird would go in the morning.
I tracked the incoming records all morning and at 12.00 when I was good to go the bird was still there. It took a while to finally arrive, I dropped in at half 2, but I arrived to the outstanding news that the bird was still there, only there were people who were seeing it, and others that were not. Apparently there was also a bittern showing well at the 'Bittern Hide', where I had not been before.
My intention was to make this a short visit as revision called, so I went straight to the bittern hide. The bittern itself had gone and the egret was out of site, so I settled down to wait and see. While I waited there were great views of Common Tern and Great Crested Grebes, as well as hirundines and Swifts.
I had been looking in the wrong place but the I soon tracked down the egret when it re-appeared from behind the reeds. Initially you could only see its head as it was mobbed by gulls, but soon it came out in all its glory, showing off fishing, and when it was mobbed its aigrette tail feathers were blowing wonderfully in the wind.
It was sad that it was quite a way away so I could not get this detail on camera, but I managed some reasonable record shots all things considered. I watched the bird for over an hour before deciding that the degree was probably pretty important and needed seeing to.
When I first saw the birds head I did wonder if everyone had got it wrong, a white heron head with a black beak did make me wonder if it was just a little egret. It was only when it stepped out from behind the reeds that I really got to appreciate the bird in all its glory as it waded up and down the bank. Its no wonder really that I took so many pictures...
-Great White Egret
Thats my tenth lifer and 151st species this year, an incredible year. The only other bird of note was a very brief view of the bittern as it moved through the reeds. A very fleeting glimpse not even worth really noting, until I got home and found these 2 photos among my collection. I chuckled to myself when I found these, clearly showing the bittern flying in the background behind the egret, a truly fantastic fluke shot.
-Bittern and Great White Egret
Another thing to note was the presence of a small cluster of Southern Marsh Orchids in front of the hide. Sadly I was obviously unable to get a really good view but I took a quick photo from the hide for record purposes.
-Southern Marsh Orchid
In review it was well worth taking the afternoon off revision to see this bird, so elegant, and put Monday well and truly behind me. I was glad to see that the bird really showed well, so that I got to see all aspects of it, truly stunning. In summary, here is the rather brief daylist:
RSPB Old Moor: Pheasant, Magpie, Sparrowhawk, Blue Tit, Mute Swan, Black-Headed Gull, Common Tern, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Moorhen, Jackdaw, Coot, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Gadwall, Canada Goose, Swift, Swallow, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Sand Martin, Great White Egret, Bittern, Lapwing Cormorant, Woodpigeon