2 brief sightings of the Purple Heron in the mist first thing this morning. I arrived at the hide at 06-15h, just in time to see a ‘slim, somewhat rangey’ heron drop into the reeds 100m out from the hide. 45 minutes later it re-emerged and flew NW across the corse to disappear into the mist. Again, my view was less than perfect but sufficient for me to feel comfortable calling it as the bird seen here in the past few days. Thick mist for the next hour or so hampered further views and, when it lifted, a couple of Grey Herons were the only long legged, long necked birds knocking around. I knocked it on the head at 10-30h.
In between PH sightings, a drake Garganey had dropped in on the pond in front of the hide. It displayed a bit to the Mallard that were already there and, getting no reaction, took off to fly further up the corse. It returned about an hour later and circled the pond before thinking better of landing and continued back down the corse.
Other stuff going on – on the walk in from Freshwater West, more Sedge Warblers than you could shake a stick at, 4 Grasshopper Warblers, one in brambles immediately uphill from the hide, a Cetti’s Warbler in the hedge line to the right of the hide. Signs of breeding – a pair of Mallard on the pond with 4 ducklings, a Meadow Pipit carrying caterpillars to a nest in the field of the hide and a pair of Swallows hanging about the toilets in the car park.
One of 4 Grasshopper Warblers in fine voice
I don’t often see one of these at eye-level
With the weather clearing up in the afternoon, I went back to see if I could get a better view of the heron. All quiet from the hide and, by 4 o’clock, with no further sightings of the Purple Heron during the day but plenty of Grey Herons I was beginning to wonder whether my morning ID had been through the ‘eye of faith’. Through text, Brian mentioned he’d watched a Marsh Harrier earlier on with the hope that it would flush the heron from the reeds. This was to prove prescient. I hadn’t seen the harrier in the morning and, getting a bit bored in the hide, strolled further up the corse to see if I could find it. Sure enough, after a few minutes, I saw it quartering the far side of the corse. As I took a few record shots I spotted, in the corner of the screen, a Grey Heron flush from the reeds. Putting down the camera I noticed there were 2 herons in the air, with the second one very clearly the Purple Heron. It dropped back in the reeds about 500m east of the hide. 15 minutes later it was back in the air and moved a short distance west towards the hide. 5 minutes after that it was up again, flying past the hide and beyond towards Starman’s before turning back to the hide and then back again to land in the reeds amongst the bushes 4-500m to the west of the hide.
The helpful Marsh Harrier being mobbed by crows shortly before flushing the herons
Testing the boundaries of record shots on the flushed Purple Heron