Monday, 22 August 2011

21st and 22nd August. Wild egret chase

I have developed a new nemesis over the last couple of days. And that nemesis is the Cattle Egret, Bubulcus ibis. One turned up at Eyebrook at a similar time to this last year and I missed it, so when one had been reported on Saturday I made my way over early on Sunday afternoon to try and see the beast. Made a rookie manoeuvre from the off in wearing the trademark hoodie - it was absolutely roasting. Now a normal person could have fixed this by simply removing the offending item of clothing but no such luck for me, In my wisdom I hadn't worn a shirt underneath and rather than expose my doughy physique to the world I cooked. Slowly.  Upon arriving it was patently obvious that the bird wasn't in the area it had been reported, and over the next two hours it became even clearer that the bird wasn't present anywhere, with it last being seen fucking off high Northwards. Bugger. A few decent birdies such as 7 Ruff, 2 Greenshank and half a dozen juvenile Yellow Wagtail (there were two Whinchat seen with the wagtails earlier in the day, but I didn't pick them out) did little to compensate. So I went home to watch the cricket in the end. And then saw that the Cattle Egret had returned to Eyebrook. What a bastard. So plans were made for Monday. Oh and I saw a Weasel at Great Easton whilst I was roaming around looking for cows.

22nd August
And so I found myself at the viewing area near the island bright and early at 6am this morning. Sightings of Little Owl, Muntjac deer and Bat sp. en route to the site made for a good start, made all the more better by a group of 3, closely followed by a group of 2 Egrets flying straight over my head within seconds of arrival and landing in the area the Cattle Egret had been seen last the night before. All 5 turned out to be Little Egret. The dirty rotters. A pair of Hobby briefly caused what may have been classed as pleasure but it was mainly annoyance with the unpredicatable nature (and downright indecency) of the Egret. Even worse my Ruff count peaked at 6 birds today and I only saw 1 Greenshank. A Green Sandpiper was added to the day list here though.
Being at Eyebrook early in the morning is always enjoyable but after a couple of hours I got bored with not seeing the Egret and became confident that i'd looked pretty damn thoroughly for it and it was almost definitely not present. And so I made my way over to Ketton quarry with the intention of satisfying the Llama and finding a real, live adder for my Leicestershire reptile list. Although its not an ideal time of year for adder I was reasonably confident of a sighting as Ketton is adder-tastic and it was a lovely warm, sunny day when I arrived on site shortly before 9am - theoretically perfect for a basking snake. In practice however no snakes were seen. Not one. I was on site for the best part of 3 hours, enjoying the sunshine and the cacophany of woodland bird song belting out from the surronding area. I did find a skin though. This one was about 2 feet long.

The visit wasn't totally devoid of reptiles however, with many many Common Lizards in evidence. Trying to get a close look (or a photo for that matter) of these little devils is a challenge though as they rarely sit still! I did see one enormous individual though, he/she was huge!

Spot the lizard

Other good stuff seen whilst at Ketton included two flyover Raven, Jay, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Lesser Whitethroat, the two commoner Woodpeckers and what were my best ever views of a Stoat. It made its way down the side of the "ampitheatre", stalked and then chased a couple of rabbits and then promptly sat on a flat rock and stared at me (I was only about 15 feet away) for what seemed like an age although it was probably only a few seconds. As soon as I moved (in this case to attempt a photo) though it shifted sharpish and wasn't seen again!

Eventually, I left Ketton at around midday and after a quick scan of Eyebrook on the way, went home and watched England be well good at cricket. Oh, and the Egret turned up at Burley Fishponds this evening. The turd.

Edit: Oh and a juv. Blackcap was sighted in the garden rare bush on Sunday. Bonanza.


  1. I guess you missed the twitching nun on Sunday as well then?

  2. I did miss the twitching nun! Dipped her aswell, it was clearly a bad day all round! I saw today I have been added to your blog roll thing, thanks for that! I've been reading yours for years! We should meet up soon and lament having Jubilee Park as a local patch!

  3. Yes - I'll look out for the hood. You've probably noticed though that I'm a very bad patch birder - I only go when I can be arsed, and generally not between May and September whilst my interests are diverted to other stuff. My patch list is pathetic with lots of glaring holes.

  4. My patch list is also a bitter shambles.... I know you have little egret and snipe though which I do not! Do my two records of water rail beat you in any way!!?

  5. Yes - no Water Rail on my patch list, but other 'W's are like Woodcock, Winchat, Wheatear and Waxwing. But not Wood Warbler. My patch boundary may not be the same as yours though - I include a bigger area and call it the Soar Valley South.

  6. yes i've seen your patch before and it does encompass a much larger area than mine - i'm just sticking to Jubilee for now and may add od my stuff from grove park too if things get desperate. I've not got any of the W's besides waxwing and that was only by virtue of the Foxhunter birds being seen flying off over Jubilee park! And I got lucky with the rails anyway.....two individuals (separate occasions) flushed off the bank whilst fishing in about 2007