Wednesday 1 February 2012: Once Bittern ... Twice Shy!
One week early!
It was all planned out today. In the end I decided to go Slimbridge to give the new lens a proper work out. I had my new Alphabet Challenge in mind. Slimbridge has a captive breeding program of Avocets. So simples! I go the Wader Shore enclosure and get a photo and we had A is for .... Avocet!
The other reason for going there was the hope of seeing the Bittern again! I managed to see it before Christmas, but was unable to photograph it as it stayed resolutely in the reed beds, so instead I got a shot of these Snipe instead. I was happy enough to see it to be honest.
I got to Slimbridge and it was packed! Which is highly unusual for mid week. My hopes sunk. Had everyone made a B-Line for the Zeiss Hide? I walked there first, expecting to be stuck on the end, with little hope of seeing the bird!
I was pleasantly surprised to find it quiet in the hide. I settled down, and slowly developed hypothermia! Cold doesn't begin to describe it! I had numerous layers on, but the Easterly wind was doing it's best to freeze my marrow in my bones!
After an hour, and the loss of feeling in most of my appendages, I was on the verge of giving up, going for a walk to try and get the blood flowing again, when someone said quietly, there she is.
And there she was! Right outside the hide window I had parked myself in. She wasn't quite out in the open, and I managed this shot and felt quite proud of myself .. not award winning, but hey, a identifiable shot of a Bittern none the less! Anything else now was a bonus ... and boy did the bonuses keep on coming!!!!
The Bittern came right out into the open, and gave us a five minute fashion show of her plumage and all her moves! Broad daylight, out in the open ... unthinkable!
To put this in context. If you asked any wildlife photographer of the top ten most difficult birds they would love to get a decent shot of the Bittern would feature pretty much unanimously!
One other thing, you never see a Bittern ... you see The Bittern! No other British tickable bird deserves a capital letter more! It really is a five star bird to have on your patch!
The lens, the journey, the bridge price ... all of it worth it for what is going to be a pretty much unbeatable wildlife moment for 2012 for me! It was a case of fourth time lucky!
My only gripe is, it is A week this week on the challenge ... I saw the Bittern a week early, and it messed up my A blip! I hope that apple stays ripe until Friday ....
There's more Bittern pictures in this Flickr set.
I also managed this nifty picture of Widgeon In Flight.