After two days up on the Greensand Ridge and yesterday working up on the Common , and tomorrow out hedgelaying with the Surrey Group , yet another dismal , damp , cool day was what I woke up to this morning . I had thought about Dungeness last night , but today's forecast for the area put me off , so I decided to go back to Sevenoaks Reserve for another attempt at the Bittern and also to see if the Barnacle Geese , posted by Ken / Focusing on Wildlife , were still around . On the way to Sevenoaks , sleety rain showers were unexpected , but it was dry when I arrived at the car park . A quick look from the main hide showed that there was very little on offer , especially no sign of the large number of Common Snipe that have been on the Reserve . Just the usual wildfowl on the way to the other hides , and on arrival , found another birder / photographer already there , and with a Bittern located in the adjacent reedbed , magic I thought . He was worried that my arrival might have scared the bird , but it carried on moving and feeding , albeit on the far side or the middle of the reedbed , but at no time more than 10 metres away . The bird seemed nervous , so we agreed that neither of us would start photographing until it was out in the open area between the hide and the front of the reedbed .
The next one and three quarter hours were spent with the bird in sight , for most of the time , but alas never coming out of the reedbed . At one time the distance between us and the bird was down to 6/7 metres , but the bird's superb markings and the dead vegetation , made it very difficult to see . Towards the end of that time , it did start moving out of the reedbed , only to turn at the last moment , and disappear back into the thickest stand of reeds , and out of view completely .
Frustrated , we decided to have a look around the rest of the Reserve , and whilst walking , I mentioned that I had been looking for Scarlet Elf Cup fungi last Sunday up on the Greensand Ridge , and Cliff said that it was found here on the Reserve , so off we headed to see if I had better luck with the species here . Sure enough , in conditions exactly the same as I was looking at last Sunday , were good numbers of the fungi , mostly still in the early stage of development , but some specimens were found at a later more open stage . With no sign of the Barnacle Geese , we headed for the Willow Hide , to see if they were on the lake behind , but there was no sign . Egyptian Geese , lots of Coots , many of them squabbling amongst themselves as they seem to do at this time of year , no sign of Wigeon , but the most numerous duck on the lake were the Gadwall , with many very smart looking males , showing off their finery in the weak sunshine that had broken through . A few of these males had already seemed to have paired up with the
drabber looking females , but together making a striking pair . We walked on down past Long Lake , in the hope that the Barnacle Geese might be in the field behind , but it only held Canada Geese and the white goose that Ken had posted . Walking back towards the Visitor Centre , we found the long staying Black-necked Grebe busily feeding , but unfortunately not in a good spot for a shot as the sun was half behind it . Also in the vicinity were two Little Grebes , and at one stage , one of these and it's cousin posed , once again with the sun not helping the shot . Before heading to the car park , we decided to have a last look for the Bittern , and on the way Cliff mentioned that there had been a Peregrine seen on several occasions near the first hide , which probably explained why there were no Common Snipe about the area .
The reedbed looked very quite when we arrived , but we set about concentrating on our quarry .
After half an hour or so , with no sign where we had seen the Bittern earlier , I sat down and had a look along the ditch which had provided good views of Water Rail on recent visits . Within seconds , a Bittern walked out of the reeds on the left of the ditch and crossed into the reeds on the right , a bit further away from where I photographed the Water Rail running across the ditch , whilst my camera was on the tripod pointing out the other opening . Although we stayed on hoping that the Bittern would show again , it didn't , and so ended a visit in which I had seen more views of a Bittern than I have ever seen before , but came away without even a record shot of the encounter .
1 hour ago