Wednesday, 30 December 2009

A Warwickshire Glossy Ibis

With the Christmas festivities comfortably over and no work to worry about until the New Year, I was feeling a bit twitchy. I'd been keeping an eye on reports about the glossy ibis at Holt Fleet in Warwickshire which had been seen every day for a couple of weeks and as I'd missed this species earlier on in the year along with the buff-breasted sandpiper on my fruitless sortie north to Cambrideshire, I thought that it would be positively rude of me not to take advantage of this revenge twitch. Unfortunately the weather was rather playing up with cold conditions and snow in various parts of the country so I'd already passed up on the opportunity once because of forecast snow where I was heading. The next day the weather was very cold, grey and drizzly but there was no snow forecast until later on in the afternoon so at around 10am I ventured forth.

The journey north was uneventful apart from the great bonus of a clear sighting of a great white egret flying low over the M40 heading north east near the Warwick services. I later learned that there'd been one in the Stratford area which had moved on that morning so it was almost certainly the same bird. I'd done my usual homework before hand and therefore arrived at the spot easily enough but the map and the directions were rather unclear as to exactly how one got down to the big field by the river where the bird was located. I found myself in a small housing estate and found where the footpath should have been but there was a house in the way! I think that the path actually went through the garden but as I didn't actually have a map with me I was a bit reluctant just to barge through in case I was wrong. Eventually I found another path down and someone directed me to a gate into the field. Just by this gate there were four rather nice lesser redpolls feeding in a silver birch tree.

Going through the gate I made my way across the field to the far end where the bird was supposed to be located. I was expecting the floods to be by the river but they turned out to be at the back of the field so I approached a little too closely and succeeding in flushing a number of mallards though the settled again further along the floods. The latter had evidently been caused by the river bursting its banks enough to flood an area with a natural depression and now that the flood waters had receded it had left a nice boggy area complete with plenty of tussocks of tall grass. In fact these tussocks were rather an obstacle as it meant it was rather difficult to see what birds were there and there was certainly no sign of any ibises. I therefore decided to retreat back to the riverside footpath and to walk along a bit further from where I could get a different viewing angle. At my second vantage point I managed to pick up the ibis working its way along the floods in and out of the tussocks. The light was abysmal and it was raining so I only obtained the crudest of record shots and video footage but it was still enough to record the great delight of what was in fact my first glossy ibis ever. A green sandpiper was also seen in the marshy area. Not wanting to get caught out by any early snow I didn't stay too long and made my way back. I tried to find the footpath from the other end but it still seemed to go through the garden so in the end I went through a very muddy field and had to clamber over a fence to get back to the car.

A videograb record shot taken in the pouring rain with no light from a couple of hundred metres away. At least it does look like a glossy ibis!

Some record shot video footage of the bird

A nice way to round off the year with a lifer and revenge tick. I seem to have managed to get 235 on my national year list with which I'm most pleased. Amazingly I've had 28 lifers this year which is fantastic though of course this is largely due to the short time that I've been birding. Interestingly enough, a seasoned county birder with a life list of over 400 confessed to me that he was rather envious of my position with so many interesting species still to see. I'm thoroughly enjoying it all at present and wouldn't want to spoil it by seeing too much too quickly.

National Year List 2009
235: glossy ibis 30/12/09 Holt Fleet

No comments: