Twice bittern.

Kingfisher in the rain, Teifi Marshes

Kingfisher in the rain, Teifi Marshes

A few days before Christmas I headed down to the Teifi Marshes near Cardigan with high hopes of seeing a bittern. It is a regular winter haunt for this extraordinary but elusive species and I had photographed one there in January 2015 (see this post). Furthermore there had recently been reports in the local bird blog of one by the Kingfisher Pool. It all seemed very promising. But after six hours in a very cold hide without a single sighting I felt somewhat deflated……and I’m sure the bad cold I suffered over Christmas was not a coincidence.

But they do say that every cloud has a silver lining, though, and in this case it was the kingfisher which made a circular tour of its perches around the pool at lunch time. Various sticks and branches have been provided here for kingfishers by the Wildlife Trust, but they result in rather conventional “bird on a stick” type images. I think the perch shown above shows the bird in a more natural setting and the falling rain gives the photograph a rather painterly feel.

Bittern at Teifi Marshees, Cardigan

Bittern at Teifi Marshes, Cardigan

The bittern was reported (and photographed) again on Tuesday so it seemed like another attempt might produce results. Another photographer was already in the hide when I arrived about 9.30 a.m. yesterday and we were soon joined by several others. One told us that the bird had spent two full days wedged between branches in a nearby willow tree. Local birders and conservationists became concerned for its welfare so reserve staff had climbed up towards it and poked it with a stick, whereupon it flew back down to the reeds!

The bittern was first seen not long afterwards. It was crouched low to the ground, fluffed up like a big round feather duster, and appeared quite immobile. It did not look like a healthy or a happy creature. But after a while it began to walk slowly towards the hide, its weight breaking the ice at one point. It came closer and closer and motor drives began to rattle away in earnest. Over the next hour it was hardly hidden at all. It walked slowly, and then more quickly, around, pausing to take the sun from time to time. The light was lovely, either bright sunshine or light cloud. Either was excellent for this large, cryptically patterned bird. It can’t eventually have been further than 20 yards from the hide. Then there was a crouch, a pause, another crouch, and it launched itself into the air, flying away quite powerfully low above the reeds and blackthorn crub.

Bittern in flight

Bittern in flight

It had been a truly exhilarating hour for everyone in the hide. One always opens oneself to disappointment by a making a tightly focussed photography expedition like this. Without the bittern it would have been a rather dismal morning – cold and dismal. So we were all happy, although we all knew we would have many hours of file processing to look forward to. Let’s just hope that the bird itself stays well and finds enough food to get through the winter.

To follow Tales from Wild Wales, please scroll down to the bottom and click Follow

Advertisements

About Jeremy Moore

One of Wales' leading photographers; based near Aberystwyth, and specialising in Welsh landscape and wildlife. He has published the Wild Wales / Cymru Wyllt range of postcards since 1987. His most recent book was "Wales at Waters Edge" (with Jon Gower) published in May 2012. The National Library of Wales has a large number of his prints in its Collection. His exhibition "Bird/land" was shown at Aberystwyth Arts Centre from June until August 2016. It originally received support from the Arts Council of Wales. He is also working on a new book about Wales with the author Jon Gower, due for publication in spring 2018.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Twice bittern.

  1. Brian Boothby says:

    You’re getting quite good at this bird photography lark Jerry ……. gorgeous kingfisher shot.
    Bitterns’ not bad either!

  2. David Clegg says:

    Agreed, the Kingfisher and the setting is really nice, Jerry.

  3. Nick Russo says:

    a fine picture, for sure. Im sure the rest of the series made interesting images too

    • Jeremy Moore says:

      Thanks Nick. I still have plenty more files to go through but on the whole they are of the bittern either resting in the sun or walking around. No extravagant poses unfortunately! But it was a fantastic esperience seeing one out in the open for so long.

  4. Great photos Jerry, I love the kingfisher photo with the lichen on the branches and the rain in the background.

    • Jeremy Moore says:

      Thanks andrea. Everyone seems to pick out the kingfisher, and I was thrilled to have taken it. The bittern seemed more of an achievement in a way, perhaps because they’re so rarely seen in the open.

  5. lotelta says:

    I really love the combination of your outstanding pictures and the exciting description of your photography trips which resulted in these pictures. The bittern looks like a cute and unusual creature 🙂

    • Jeremy Moore says:

      Thanks very much. Glad you enjoy the text as well as the pictures. Bitterns are quite slim in one dimension so they can slip between reed stems quite easily. It is also so well camouflaged that you can be a few yards from one hidden in reeds and not see it. And the flight pic shows what an ungainly creatures they are in some ways as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s