It started well, 20+ Siskin chattering away in Birches just off Amwell Lane, a brief snatch of song of a male Blackcap from nearby woodland, followed shortly by 4 soaring Common Buzzard as I walked along the canal towards the viewpoint. An Oystercatcher was heard calling from Great Hardmead Lake but not seen.
I really should visit this site more often. It really is excellent. From the viewpoint, a count of 52 Shoveler, 22 Lapwing, and around 20 Common Gull along with Gadwall, Teal, Tufted Duck, nesting Cormorants, 2 Cetti's Warbler, 5 Common Snipe, and a single Little Egret.
Having seen reports from previous days, I headed over to the White Hide to view the reedbed where a Kingfisher was heard calling. I didn't have to wait long till I connected with the master skulker as it crept through the reeds about a metre in from the water edge.
The reedbed opposite the White Hide where the Bittern has been wintering
The Bittern finally emerged from one of the cuttings allowing a couple of shots. It is such a thrill seeing this enigmatic bird. The bird showed well at times allowing great views of its stunning plumage.
Bittern - Amwell GP 26/02/14
The day got a little complicated. A gull first spotted by two birders got their attention and I was immediately summoned to provide my expert ID Gull knowledge. My initial thoughts were Iceland Gull, but it looked all wrong. An all dark bill with a pale tip, primaries way too dark, but a very pale bird nonetheless. I didn't have a clue what this was so I sought guidance.
With thanks to the helpful souls that contacted me through Twitter, it transpired that this is an aberrant Herring Gull that has been present on the reserve for a while. A strange looking bird, that gave me a right ID run-around.
Back to normality, the redhead Smew was still present with at least 5 Goldeneye including 2 drakes at the southern end of the lake.