By all accounts, and there were enough people passing through the hide during the two days I spent there, the Bittern had been showing really well for the past few weeks and for good periods. I went after the reports of its presence had been dying out, whether due to it not being reported anymore, it was now a regular, or not being seen, I wasn’t sure. I was, though, aware that I was on the limit as it would definitely be moving on soon.
I arrived soon after 9.00am on the first day. The weather was good and the light superb. Over the whole day over 25 people came and went, some with cameras, some just passing through but all aware of the Bittern. It wasn’t showing and the perceived wisdom was that it had probably moved on. By 5.00pm everyone had left and the light was dropping rapidly. Having spent the whole day there I thought I’d stay until photography became impossible. I’d enjoyed a Heron toying with a frog; a couple of Water Rails making several comical forays across the small area of water in front of the hide; Reed Buntings, Jays, and a male and female Bullfinch making regular visits; a Kingfisher, which made a brief appearance and on two occasions a Sparrowhawk that lifted the lot before normality setting in again. It had been a good day, but no Bittern.
By 5.25pm I was on the limit with the light, thinking about calling it a day, when I caught site a of slight movement in the reeds and the Bittern moved through a small clearing for a few seconds and then was deep in the reeds again. A further ten minutes passed and at that time of the day every minute sees a huge drop in the light. I was now on 1/20th second at f4 and on 3,000 ISO, not the ideal parameters but still just about workable. A little wave of the reeds and it showed again, not brilliantly, still a little deep in the reeds but it was there. It stayed as if to torment me. Hours of waiting in strong light and now at gone six on an early March evening I was forced to leave the hide with it still showing; the light having completely deserted me. I walked back to the car with optimism as the forecast was good for the morning and I knew it was still about. I would give it another day.
The images here were all taken on day 1 –
Some technical notes.
The Bittern showed at 5.10pm this evening (March 1st) I took 80 images. All were taken with the 500mm lens. The first image of the series was taken at 1/250th sec at f4 with an ISO of 560; the last image was taken at 6.10pm on 1/15th sec at f4 on 3,200 ISO. These later images were also underexposed by a couple of stops to help with the shutter speed and processed as a RAW file, giving me enough latitude to pull the image back and alter the colour temperature which was continually shifting as the light was lowering.