It was a lovely bright winter day today so I embarked on a trip up to Cresswell after lunch. 1 waxwing over the road at Ellington was a good start but I didn't manage to locate the snow goose south of Druridge (I drove past the area 10 minutes after it had been reported with pink-footed geese).
Pretty much the first bird seen at Cresswell Pond was a bittern! Feeding along the edge of the reeds at the north-eastern edge of the water - too distant for photographs but very good prolonged views. Water rail were squealing frequently and there were healthy numbers of lapwing, golden plover, teal and wigeon. The Druridge pink-feet did a fly-over after a micro-lite had disturbed them, but still no sign of the snow goose.
As the afternoon progressed and the light faded a single barn owl was out hunting over the dunes - Cresswell has a good track record for this species and they're always nice to watch. A quick qlance across to the south east corner of the pool revealed a second bittern - standing out on the reed edge! A quick jump up to the camera provided 4 record shots to be taken, none of which are much good as I'd taken the convertor off earlier and the light was fading rapidly (excuses, excuses) ... oh, and the buff brown toned plumage blends in quite well with phragmites reedbed!!
Heading back to the car I recieved a text from Steve Holliday - he was watching a short-eared owl at West Hartford, and more grippingly for WH regulars - water rail. SH had also had iceland gull and snow bunting at Blyth - so my plans for tomorrow are developing nicely.
After packing up the camera/tripod I decided to drive up to the northern car park to have another quick look at the barn owl - which flew less than 10m past the car - brilliant! With the success of the afternoon in mind I decided to pop into West Hartford, arriving at 16:15 in virtual darkness but just in time to catch glimpse of the SEO - only the second this autumn/winter so far - no sight or sound of the water rail but hopefully it will stick for the winter.