Lots of people out and about on this lovely Sunday afternoon. It was the first time I have encountered a line up to get over the Westham Island bridge. Lots of families going to the farms for their Halloween pumpkins. Reifel was equally as busy when I arrived to help out on the trails. While it was fairly quiet on the birding front, there was one bird that provided a little excitement for birders.
This American Bittern was providing good views along the west dyke. Usually a fairly secretive bird, it is always fun when you have a chance to see a Bittern in the open.
A little overcast today, but at least it was not raining. Probably the reason for the smaller number of people at Reifel for a Sunday afternoon. Apparently they had good numbers yesterday with the sunshine. Helping out on the trails again there were a few Northern Saw-whet Owls along with a single Great Horned Owl to show visitors. None of the owls were in vulnerable spots, thus not requiring steady attention by the volunteers.
While making my way out along the outer dyke and west marsh area I caught a fleeting glimpse of a sparrow working its way along below the trail deep in the bramble and bushes. What got my attention was some noticeable rufous colouring. Could it be my nemesis bird, the elusive Swamp Sparrow. I continued working the area, but could not relocate the bird. While doing this I spotted an American Bittern at the edge of the pond. It to quickly disappeared into the reeds, so at this point I was not having much luck with anything. As I continued to scour the trail for the sparrow the bittern flew back in to the area of wind flattened reeds next to the new viewing platform.
Finally a chance to get some shots of something and much to the delight of a few visitors that had been waiting since I had mentioned seeing one to them.
Likely the same bird that has been frequenting this spot for a few weeks now.
At this point it was getting too close for my lens, but I had nowhere to back-up to without loosing a clear line of sight. Not often you complain about this with an American Bittern. So I just sat back and enjoyed along with the others visitors that continued to come by. Occasionally I would break away to search for the sparrow, but never relocated it.
With the nice weather it was another busy Sunday afternoon while volunteering at Reifel. A good part of my afternoon was spent keeping tabs on one of the Northern Saw-whet Owls in a vulnerable spot along the east dyke trail. It has gotten bad enough with visitors getting too close that staff have had to erect temporary fencing. Once things settled down towards the end of the day I did manage to get a brief walk in. While heading out along the outer dyke trail in search of my nemesis bird, Swamp Sparrow, there was a pleasant surprise skulking in the blown down reeds.
An American Bittern was busy foraging and feeding on small minnows. I stayed put here to point out this usually secretive heron to visitors. Everyone was delighted as it is not often you can sit back and watch these birds out in the open for this length of time.
When photographing American Bittern I always try to get a shot of them when they are standing tall in the reeds. They blend in so well it helps, as in this photo, to try and get them when there is a break in the reeds. You still capture their natural habitat and the clearer section helps highlight the bird.