Bittern at Forest Farm, Cardiff

Saturday, January 23, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


A bit belated I know but last weekend I visited Forest Farm near Cardiff for the very first time after hearing of a Bittern that had taken up residence at one of the pools there since the New Year. We headed straight for the first hide and were very surprised to find it already packed with people (all of them with cameras and lenses that I can only dream of). After finding myself a spot that offered some sort of view between peoples heads I slowly realised that I was standing next to world renowned wildlife photographer Andy Rouse. I have been an admirer of his pictures for some time now and find it a great inspiration to try and improve my own work. The banter between himself and others in the hide was great, especially the snippets of advice that he was offering to the young "twitchmeister" of Birders in Boxers blog fame. I have made it my mission for this year to get to one of his talks as from what I saw they would be an excellent way to spend an evening.

But enough of the celebrity spotting. We were here to see a bird that numbers at most 150 individuals during the winter and one that I have only ever managed to see on one previous occasion. That was thirteen years ago at RSPB Minsmere. I have been looking ever since but have never again hit lucky. That was until today. I'll let the pictures do the talking.

11932 - Bittern at Forest Farm 11929 - Bittern at Forest Farm
11934 - Bittern at Forest Farm 11927 - Bittern at Forest Farm

To say I was happy would be an understatement. In near perfect lighting we watched the tall reeds rustle and move as the Bittern edged closer towards open water. A call went up and we quickly located the bird moving along the waters edge just inside the reeds. A few minutes later and the Bittern was poking its head out into the open as it looked for food. The water was like a mill pond and generated near perfect reflections. I was amazed to see just how green its legs were and at how it was standing on the reed stems themselves as opposed to wading through the water. The sound of camera shutters going off inside the hide seemed almost deafening but couldn't distract from the marvel that we were witnessing. A few minutes passed before the Bittern took one last look and took to the air. It flew across in front of the hide just above the water before landing in the reeds on the other side of the water and disappearing from view. Absolutely stunning and a day to remember for a long time to come.

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