It was an absolutely glorious day at Old Moor today. For the first time this year I saw several butterflies around the site, including a Brimstone, in the bushes near the Field Pool West hide.
However, the real draw for today was the fact that an ‘early bird’ Barnsley Birder had tweeted a report of a Water Rail showing well in the channel in front of the Reedbed Screen at 08.30 this morning. I had seen photographed a pair of Water Rails at Caerlaverock on a cold, grey day back in December, but could I do better still today in glorious sunshine?
Helen and I had a brief stint in the Tree Sparrow Farm first, and we were very pleased to see a Brambling in one of the trees. Sadly, and as frustratingly usual (grrrr!), it was partially obscured by twigs and so the photos aren’t brilliant.
Moving on to the Reedbed Trail was definitely a wise move. We didn’t have to wait more than about ten minutes at the Reedbed Screen before the Water Rail showed itself; a gorgeous individual this one, with the sun shining on it to show it off to great effect, just as we had hoped. Over the course of half an hour or so we had several sightings of it during which we rattled of loads of photographs showing it either mooching-about in the reeds or swimming across the channel.
From here it’s only a few yards to the Reedbed Hide. Here we watched two Great Crested Grebes performing part of their elaborate courtship display. By the time we left the hide we were feeling quite pleased with the photographic opportunities we had enjoyed already.
On passing the Reedbed Screen again on the way back, the Water Rail was once more performing for the assembled birders. So we just had to take a few more shots of this usually very timid and rarely-seen bird!
Next, we walked around to the Family Hide in the hope of spotting the Med Gull which has been here for some time.
Black-headed Gull numbers at Old Moor must have just about reached their maximum by now though, and if there was a Med Gull in amongst them, we couldn’t find it! Sadly, time was against us and we had to leave to attend to some other things we had planned for the day. We both felt as though we could have stayed much longer. This was made much worse when we discovered later in the day that a Bittern had flown over the Reedbed just where we had been, about an hour after we had left! (Double grrrr!)
A great birding day for us though, nonetheless. We will get a Bittern one of these days!