Sunday 19 June 2011

Heronfest 2011

A four-Heron day, inexplicably missing Little Egret, which you would expect nine times out of ten. No matter though, the targets were well and truly bagged. I am finding it difficult to not classify today as out-and-out twitching, but I decided to accept a lift to Dungeness from Bradders so I suppose it was always on the cards.

Top of the list was a Squacco Heron that has been around Hooker's Pit for a few days now. I've seen precisely one of these in the UK before, just the other side of the Thames at Crossness. It seems like years ago now, but it was one of the first birds I ever twitched. I had no idea about the pain and anguish back then, and recall being surprised at seeing haggard sweatball of a man rushing up to the viewing area, wild-eyed, asking (shouting, if I'm honest) if it was still showing. Oh the age of innocence. It was still showing, and I watched this crazy fool of a man visibly relax as he almost literally drank it in. I pitied him. And am now belittling him.

Hey ho. We pitched up and saw the Heron immediately, which was nice. A short scope-swivel away and a summer plumaged Great White Egret was standing around doing not a lot. The primary interest was the Squacco though, and after a short while it took off and turned into a Barn Owl, which was rather clever of it. After catching a few voles it settled back into the reeds and started being a Heron again.

News then started filtering through of a Night Heron within the LNHS area, Stocker's Lake in Herts to be precise. It was the work of moments to abandon a windswept and somewhat sodden Dungeness for the comfort of Bradders' Subaru and scoot back to London for some filthy tickage. The Heron showed extremely well if distantly, and largely sat in a tree and preened. The last one I saw just slept, so this was a step in the right direction. A fine way to finish an afternoon's birding you might think, but the best was yet to come. In our mad rush to twitch the Heron we had inadventantly parked next to a pub with a beer garden. Only noticing this on the way back to the car, it was too much to resist, and a swift pint of Wells Bombardier was duly despatched whilst a Red Kite glided overhead.

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