Tuesday, 5 November 2013

GLOSSY IBIS at last!


It was a mostly wet morning with a strong NW wind blowing.
I was rather hoping for a sizeable Woodpigeon passage this morning so headed for IVINGHOE HILLS NATURE RESERVE (BUCKS) but despite photographing one at very close range (see below), the migration with this species did not just happen, although FIELDFARES and Common Starlings were piling through west. The total for the former ended with an impressive 493, with REDWING at a far more lowly 22 - and just 2 Chaffinch.

Knowing that Andrew Steele had seen a GLOSSY IBIS very briefly on Sunday at Tyttenhanger GP 'scrape', it came as no surprise when one appeared (presumably the same) on the floods at Holyfield Marsh (just east of the Hertfordshire border in the Essex part of the Lea Valley). This was presumably the bird seen recently at Abberton Reservoir, near Colchester. Anyhow, I contacted Graham White, in the hope that he would be charging down to see it. My hunch was right and Graham was almost there ! It's stay however had been brief and at around 1300 hours, it had flown north and further up the valley. Graham being the birder that he is, sensed rightfully that it was likely to be at Rye Meads or Amwell and less than 10 minutes later, he 'phoned back to say that he had relocated it. Without any to do, I was off like a rocket - GLOSSY IBIS being a much highly sought-after rare on my local 3-Counties List. I immediately telephoned Mike Ilett and Bill Last as I knew both would be very close at hand, before trying to get hold of Steve Blake (who, coincidentally, had seen the only prior Glossy Ibis in the county).

Graham, as luck would have it, had to go to a meeting at the RSPB reserve this afternoon and as he left the hide to inform the staff of his find, Mike Ilett replaced him and kept me updated. It took me just under 24 minutes to arrive, the M25 roadworks between Junctions 23 & 25 slowing my progress. But panic no more, there was the beast - a juvenile GLOSSY IBIS feeding at 200 yards range to the north of Lapwing Hide in the recently flooded field - the famous Great Snipe field of old. The Iberian immigrant had found a field much to its liking and was working overtime catching invertebrates and small grubs. It was sharing the field with four Konik Ponies who for a while, took an instant dislike to the intruder, but as they made their way to the opposite end of the field, the Glossy Ibis kept closer to the Black-headed Gulls and remained frenetically feeding until at least the time when I departed at 1615 hours. Although always very distant from the car park hide, I did manage to obtain a fair selection of record shots (see below). It was not a particularly busy twitch - just Mike, Graham, Bill, Barry Reed, Alan & Sarah Harris, Roland, Alan Reynolds, Ian Williams and the odd other joining the RSPB staff in the two hours or so I was in the hide. Now all of this Glossy Ibis needs to do is fly into neighbouring Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire!

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