Sunday 4 September 2011

Great White

Sorry, hard rock lovers, this isn't a blog post about the American band. Furthermore, as we're located about 70 miles from the sea, here in little ol' MK, it's unlikely to be a Jaws-dropping tale of sharp-toothed wit. So what does that leave us with... ?

Just as I was completing yesterday's blog session, a text came through from the Admiral, saying that he was watching a Great White at our local nature reserve, Hanson Environmental Study Centre (HESC). Presuming it wasn't a shark, for the above-mentioned reasons, the only other option was an egret. This was a species that I'd not encountered before, it being only an occasional visitor to the UK, so it looked like turning into a mini-twitch, virtually on our back door step.

The Admiral's text also contained information that the bird was visible from the Far Hide, as it was located at the easterly end of the bund, handily standing next to a Grey Heron for size comparison. Our Lass and I made our way to the hide, with the briefest of pauses to admire a Migrant Hawker and Southern Hawker en route (dragons are a higher priority than birds in my book, ok).

The egret was indeed at the end of the bund, far too far away for anything other than record shots with the camera. After preening for a bit, it wandered to the water's edge, paddled around for a while and then flew to the north east corner of the lake to hunt. This wasn't much closer really, but it was then spooked by another Grey Heron and flew back to the bund. Unfortunately, this time, it was behind some willow bushes, so we took the decision to decamp to the Near Hide for a better view.

As luck would have it, just before we entered the Near Hide, it moved back to the other side of the bund again. Doh! This information was relayed to us by the only occupant of the hide, Rob Norris, aka Birding North Bucks and Beyond, who worked out that we were the Tense Towers Team and introduced himself. It's always a pleasant surprise to bump into a fellow blogger!

After waiting a while to see if the Great White would move again (it didn't), Rob pondered upon whether to go to the Far Hide for a better view (he did). Predictably, a short time later, the egret flew up into some willow trees to roost, allowing distant views once more.

Bizarrely, I realised that I had just clocked up my 201st blog post and this bird was 201st on my puny life list.

As a post script, today sees the inaugural event organised by the Friends of HESC, a group set up to protect and maintain the nature reserve as a place for wildlife. The site is threatened by encroaching development, the prospect of being turned into a manicured park and, also, lack of funding for basic habitat maintenance.


Rob N said...

Hi Graeme,
Yes it was good to finally meet you.
Oddly the Egret was my 201st species for Bucks.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

I don't understand the reasoning behind making the area a manicured park when there's a lack of funding for basic habitat maintenance.

While it's fun to see animals through blogs that I don't see at home, it's just as fun to see something common here like the great egret through different eyes. Thanks. I find them to be very difficult to photograph with all that white.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Rob, Whoa! This is getting spooky. I think it would be great if the 2s , the 0s and the 1s went and played with the other numbers 3 to 9 for a while.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Katie, It's a long story and even longer in the telling, as Winnie the Pooh once said (I think). The folk with the money don't own the site yet, the folk without the money don't own the site but lease it, and no-one really knows what the folk who DO own the site think, quite independently of whether they've lots of money or not. It's a right pickle and the only sure fire losers are going to be the flora and the fauna.

LOL! I was just glad to capture an image, it was so far away. There may be a postscript to the story...

Martin said...

Pity this post is number 202 really... If it had been your 201st that would have been enough information for a song for the Spooky Men!

Imperfect and Tense said...

Martin, Nope, didn't see any large spanners or mastodons, but they're more than welcome to sing about egrets.