Monday, 19 January 2015

Night Heron

I decided to drive down into Kent to see the juvenile Night Heron at Nicholls Quarry near Hythe. I had been thinking about it for a couple of days but had been put off by the fact that the bird was on private property and also that I do not really like twitches. I was surprised then, to arrive at about ten thirty, to find that I had it all to myself and that no one else turned up in the two hours that I watched the bird.

Mind you, they had probably thought about a little more than I had. Its called a Night Heron for a reason. It is active at night and probably best observed at dawn and dusk. During the day it roosts in a suitable low tree or bush and that is exactly what this bird did. I watched its back for nearly two hours as it roosted deep in a bush by the side of the lake.

Juvenile Night Heron

If I was only a birder I could have walked away happy that I had seen it and that I had my tick, but I am not and I needed a better photograph. The temptation is to step over all the private property signs and go and disturb the bird and if you read SOS that's probably what you expect all photographers to do. The temptation is great, there was no one around to see me but instead I stood for two hours in a pool of frozen mud and water waiting for some movement.

Was I rewarded for my efforts? Well sort of, the heron did stir and preen for a couple of minutes but still with its back to me, then before it settled down again it gave me what seemed to be a begrudging glance over its shoulder.

Before going back to sleep

By this time I was getting cold and I had left my sandwiches in the car so I decided to leave it in peace and move on. It may not be the picture I was looking for but at least I had a record shot of its face and eye or at least part of it.

Out of interest the colours shown on these shots are not what I expected. My memory of the bird is of it being a much deeper brown and of the spots having a green tinge. I am not sure if it's my memory that is letting me down, my eyesight, or my cameras ability to record the colours in the very low light levels within the bush.

Having visited Scotney and Dungeness recently I decided on a change of venue for the afternoon. I decided to drive up to Sheppey and visit Elmley Nature Reserve to view the vast numbers of wildfowl and waders that were in the area. I was not best pleased then, when I arrived at Elmley to find that it was closed. They were demolishing a barn close to the entrance and had decided to close it for the day. I was not alone in my displeasure, I met a number of birders during the afternoon that had also travelled long distances to be there.

Fortunately Sheppey has some other good sites, Capel Fleet, Harty Ferry, Swale NR, Shellness. Too many for me to cover in an afternoon and I got no further than Capel Fleet and the Raptor Point. The wildfowl were a bit distant and I did not see any unusual waders but I did manage to pick up White-fronted Geese.

White-fronted Geese in the foreground

Sadly everything was too distant to be able to pick out the Pink-footed and Snow Geese that had been reported in the area.

Raptors were plentiful. There were at least six Marsh Harriers flying at the same time. Peregrines, Merlin, Kestrel, Short-eared Owl, Barn Owl, and a probable Ring-tail. A male Hen Harrier had aslo been spotted over at Shellness. The Merlin was picked up by a couple of birders standing next to me but I failed to get onto it yet again. This is turning out to be a bit of a bogey bird for me with the only ones I have ever seen being the two we picked up dead in the road close to Scotney (see blog)

As usual the only picture that I managed to get was that of a Kestrel

and there was Red-legged Partridge crossing the road as I headed home in the half light

The Night Heron made it a successful day but I had hoped to see a lot more and to get some better picture opportunities around Elmley.

No comments:

Post a Comment