The best place to see a bittern for the past three or four days has been from Scott hide. A bird has been feeding almost continuously just a few feet from the hide and giving absolutely cracking views. Several smew have been coming in very close as well and a water rail has been running back and forth. Actually, bitterns have been all over the place so it is almost impossible to walk around the trail without seeing one!
Other sightings of note over the past couple of days include; 15 goosanders on Burrowes pit, a hen harrier over Denge Marsh, two firecrests at the ARC site and one near Hooker's pits, and a Dartford warbler near Christmas Dell.
There were 11 bitterns seen around the site again yesterday - at least three seen on and off from the Visitor Centre, three at the ARC site, one at Scott hide - one even dropped into the car park bushes. There were 14 smew on various pits including a male at New Diggings, where there was also a female red-crested pochard. Water rails have been showing, well both from Scott hide and at the ARC site.
It was wildfowl count day yesterday and although some numbers were surprisingly low (only four smew and five goosanders) we did notch up a reserve record count of wigeon with a total of 7488 birds present across the site. Bitterns may also have reached a record high with eleven birds counted.
Also of note yesterday were at least 150 white-fronted geese flying over (there is a flock of 300+ near Cockles Bridge, between the reserve and Lydd, this morning) and in excess of 100 Bewick's swans roosting on the ARC site.
I had an early morning treat today as I watched over 140 Bewick's swans leaving the ARC site, where they had roosted overnight. Five (!) bitterns were on Burrowes pit and 20+ goosanders were around the site. Fifteen waxwings flew over the ARC site yesterday.
The reserve looked lovely in the late afternoon sunshine after a couple of hours of blizzard conditions. Fingers crossed that we won't get too much more of the white stuff tomorrow.
For the past two days there have been two bitterns clearly visible from the Visitor Centre for most of the day. Another bird was seen at Hooker's pits early this morning. Goldeneyes, smew and goosanders are also still present across the site and two water rails are being seen regularly from Scott hide.