Thursday, 17 December 2015

Glossy Ibis

Three years ago the Glossy Ibis seemed like a common bird on the south coast. I saw five perhaps six that year. The following year it was one bird and last year zero. It looked like being zero again this year but with a Glossy being reported regularly at Pett Levels we were still in with a chance.

Our first visit on Monday was a bit of a failure. We spent an hour there in the morning and an hour again late afternoon, with a visit to Dungeness in between. We searched thousands of birds that morning but came up with nothing. It's strange how, at a distance, an upright walking coot can look a bit like a Glossy Ibis and there were a lot of coots out there feeding on the grass.

As you would expect whilst we were away at Dungeness the Glossy Ibis was reported again and in its usual place - in the ditch, in the first field, just to the left of the roadside pool (the eastern most pool). In the afternoon we searched all the birds again but still drew a blank. The doubts start to creep in, Who had reported it? Did they know the difference between a Glossy Ibis and a Curlew? Was it someone's idea of a joke?

Still we had to try again and with some decent weather promised on Thursday we left home early and were out at Pett Level just before nine o'clock. Within thirty seconds of getting out of the car Dave had spotted it. It was exactly where all the reports had placed it and despite what I said above, it looks nothing like an upright Coot. But then its easy to be clever once you've made the identification.

We grabbed a few record shot, all of mine were useless. The early morning light was giving me 1/80 second and hand held on a large lens that does not make for good pictures. Then the bird took off and we thought we had lost the chance. It circled round then came into land even closer to us. Too close in fact.  Great for looking at the bird but I could barely get it in the frame and there were reeds blowing across the view.

I don't usually put up poor pictures but this one is a classic. Almost close enough to touch but too big for the frame, too close to focus properly, reeds blowing across the view and photo bombed by a coot.

Little more that could go wrong with this picture

A bit of shuffling around to try to get a better view saw us flush the bird and for a second time we thought we had lost it. Fortunately it stayed close and we had the chance to get some better pictures.

A great bird to see but this time of year its colours are a bit dull. I would like to get a picture of of one that was really showing the green and purple gloss that they are named after.

Given our early success we headed off to have a look at Scotney and Dungeness. It was all a bit quiet although the numbers of geese and ducks are gradually building. We saw Great White Egrets and Marsh Harriers, both quite common birds at Dungeness these days.

Marsh Harrier

The Long-eared Owl was still showing behind the dipping pool, but it was even better concealed than when we last saw it, and there were four redhead Smew on the Burrows lake.

On our Monday visit to Dungeness there were a couple of pairs of Pochard showing but both the males were asleep. This time they were nowhere to be seen so I had to settle for just taking a picture of one of the females.

It took two trips but it was good to see a Glossy Ibis again.

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