I had just turned off the main road & had started on the long winding road to the reserve when I saw 2 bright white shapes on the right-hand side. I came to a shuddering halt in a lay-by, but these had black bills, so were clearly Little Egrets, and not the Cattle Egret which had been reported from the same general area. It would have been too good to be true to have seen the Cattle Egret so easily.
We saw 37 species yesterday morning, which is 3 more than last week. Unfortunately, we endured really dark conditions so the early morning Redpoll was quite hard to see. However, when people did see it they were knocked-out to discover it was one of the one in ten males, which sport the very pink breast. Many of the marshes were devoid of birds, which seemed to be caused by a mixture of lingering ice sheets & industrial tree clearing. However at the furthest southern point we saw 2 redhead Smew, about 6 Goldeneye, plenty of Wigeon & a good sprinkling of other wildfowl, but surprisingly few geese.
We walked the whole length of the main reserve without seeing much apart from a pair of Mistle Thrushes, but there were masses of birds on the largest reservoir - these were really well lit by now & were fairly close to the hide. New birds here included a pair of sleeping Great Crested Grebes.
The afternoon group initially wanted to look for the Cattle Egret at the north end of the site, but it was flushed by a noisy tractor just before we were due to start & its location was unknown, so we reluctantly did a rerun of the morning. There were now more Lesser Redpolls in much better light with a few Siskins, but everything else was very similar.
Meanwhile 3 enterprising morning participants had started from the car park on a 2 mile hike & were rewarded with good views. I still have never seen a Cattle Egret!
Cattle Egret (c) 2012 Tony Robinson