Spent almost two hours freezing my bits off in the Rufford Hide at Mere Sands Wood today before one of the Bitterns came mooching through the reeds, moving slower than a Three-Toed Sloth on tranquilisers.
Despite its extremely laid-back approach to the business of the day (namely feeding), when just about the whole place was encased in ice, it was good to 'scope the superbly camouflaged carpetbag as it crept through the reeds, its head slowly swaying from side to side.
As is often the way, it remained motionless for long periods.
I like it when they seem to inflate and deflate, their streaky turtle backs rising or falling into the reeds to become invisible, shortly before they look for food by gently easing their sensitive beezers into the shallow water to feel for movement/dinner.
Struck the alarm posture once or twice, especially when a young Grey Heron seemed to be thinking of taking over its feeding area.
Shame the BIttern didn't sit out like its cousin, but luckily Ron Jackson has got some cracking video footage of one of the Bitterns, which he shot earlier in the week,.
You can watch it here.
Thanks to Ron for the link.
He adds: "Hope you managed the Bittern(s). A bloke I know had one fly down into the reeds by Rufford Hide from the trees over the hide! Strange birds".
He's right, they are strange birds. The one I watched this afternoon picked up the pace a bit as the light began to fade, but only insofar as it moved 20 metres or so into deeper cover.
Elsewhere at Mere Sands Nuthatch, Jays, Treecreepers, 5 Goldeneye, 1 Great Crested Grebe and hordes of Reed Buntings, with fewer Tree Sparrows around the centre and its feeders.
8 Goosanders back on the one unfrozen area of the main mere.
Left the reserve at about 1545 and on a whim (I could still feel something below the knee, so was therefore not cold enough), called in at Southport Marine Lake.
7 Goldeneye, Gadwall, Wigeon, Little Grebe, Peregrine and at least 11 Little Egrets roosting on the north island by 4.30pm.
Too cold to wait and see if the Great White came in, and once I had averted my eyes from the "Caramac" Red Crested Pochard, I headed for the hills.
After all, a Shag sitting directly under the Lakeside Inn was surely a none too subtle hint to call time.
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...