A slight gap in blog posts, mainly because it’s been so quiet. Desperately quiet. It’s the peak of what’s considered the busiest time in the British birding calendar, and I’m currently on my longest gap without a year tick in 2017! It’s not about the lack of year ticks though - that isn't really frustrating. It’s about the grim pace of things, particularly the past fortnight. Next to no signs of visible migration, either in the skies or on the deck, and a discouraging number of birds.
Only this week, in response to this poor run, have I slightly taken my foot off the gas, but I’ve still been a couple of times. Clear skies and a gentle north-west wind on Tuesday morning seemed promising, but aside from a few Chaffinches on the deck, there was nothing new. Anyway, I’ll keep plugging away, despite the seemingly endless forecast of westerlies. The Thrushes will have to arrive at some point…
|Green circle marks the spot - the private pond|
where a Bittern was seen in 1996
Going back to August (oh productive August, with its 5 year ticks) I was delighted to add Yellow-legged Gull to the historical site list, and in a milestone capacity, with it seemingly becoming the 150th Thorncombe Street area bird. However, it turns out it was the 151st, after a golden nugget of information from Wes A confirmed that, rather astonishingly, a Bittern was recorded in 1996.
A relation of Wes’s was the Wintershall gamekeeper in the 1990’s, and as well as regular sightings of Grey Partridge (which is now extremely rare here), he also had a Bittern on one of the many private ponds within the estate, near Honeymead Barn. These particular ponds are almost impossible to view, with no footpaths running nearby, and I’ve only managed a couple of glances before.
There’s no doubt that this pond (which I’ve marked in the photo in this blog) and the others adjacent to it, particularly the largest one at Grafham Grange, has the potential for good birds. Sadly, though, I’m unlikely to ever know. Bittern becomes another bird that will be exceptionally difficult to get back here, and makes it 5 heron/egret species for the patch, pretty crazy given the general dearth of water bodies. It also offers a bit of inspiration during a time when it’s particularly lacking.