Wednesday 26 February 2014


February has been a surprisingly good month for me at Eyebrook, and I reached my rough target of 90 species for the year this morning with amazing views of the Bittern at the inflow. Definitely a case of third time lucky, having failed to see it last Friday and again on Saturday. This bird has the rather odd habit of feeding under the trees, usually well away from the inflow stream, and today it was doing just that, although it did walk along the stream at one point.

Having never photographed a Bittern before, I was quite pleased to get these first few shots, but even more pleased with the final ones, taken from the bridge in excellent light at a range of about 25 yards. These are just a few from the 150+ I took:

Initial views under the trees were OK, but unspectacular

Then it moved into the open

Posed a bit...

Then appeared much closer at the edge of the stream

Came a bit closer still, then...

Boom! (it didn’t actually go ‘boom’, of course, that’s just a way of expressing satisfaction in modern birding parlance).

After this it walked off back into the trees, where I later saw it catch and eat a vole. In all, it was on view for about an hour.

Other February highlights were the site’s first ever Cetti’s Warbler, which I heard calling at the inflow on the 16th, and a Peregrine on the 2nd. The remaining new species for the year were Pintail, Tawny Owl, Grey Wagtail and Mistle Thrush.

Sunday 2 February 2014

Groundhog Day

If any groundhog living near Eyebrook (Stoke Dry Steve or Great Easton Graham, perhaps?) had poked his head out of his burrow today, he would definitely have seen his shadow, thereby predicting another six weeks of winter. And he would probably also have wondered how the hell he'd come to wake up in the UK after going to sleep in North America.

But apart from any biogeographically inaccurate rodent-based weather forecasting fantasies, today had a definite Groundhog Day feel about it as I paid my second visit in three days to the patch. As it was a nice day (almost spring-like in fact, whatever any fictitious groundhog might say) I decided to walk around the entire 5 mile perimeter of the reservoir, something I've never done before in my 29+ years of watching the site on and off.

My 'reward' for this ridiculously optimistic trek was a Peregrine, and the satisfaction of knowing that there really wasn't anything else new for the list anywhere around the reservoir.