Sunday, 3rd April 2021 – Towcester
Ever since we locked down back in 2020, 13 months ago, we have been taking regular walks in the local parks, including the water meadows, and along the stream that borders the parkland next to our house. In all that time we have made occasional sightings of the local population (which may only be 2) of little egrets.
Theoretically, at least if you believe the bird identification books we have in the house, they are only to be found around the coastal areas of the UK. Clearly, given how far away from the coast we are (we could hardly be further away) the changing climate or something has made them colonise new areas of the country in the decades since the books were written. I’ve since been told they’ve been nesting here for the last 8 years, in the trees behind the leisure centre.
I first became aware of them when one flew low enough for me to see it flash past our garden at tree top level about a decade ago. I then didn’t see it again until last year when it was suddenly seen now and then flying very high or skulking in the reeds along the stream. In the last 13 months the only time I’ve seen any of them close was last Autumn when a pair flew over my head when I was out running.
The splashed down in the stream, and sat there looking around. Did I have anything on me to photograph them? What do you think? Of course I bloody didn’t! Not even my phone. The best views I got, with a camera to hand, tended to be like this at best.
So yesterday when we decided to take a pre-lunch walk, and I grabbed my best camera and the long lens we were both pretty convinced I wouldn’t see the birds at all. Because that’s how it goes. Only we were both wrong.
As we walked along the path towards the local leisure centre I suddenly spotted one of the egrets, hiding out just under one of the low level bridges that carry the local roads across the water. They’re very wary birds, but I managed to get a couple of shots that actually showed the bird clearly.
As we got closer it took off, and moved along the stream towards the open fields, bouncing from one patch to the next, just out of range. Finally, something made it take off, and it flew up into a tree, where it sat looking cross for a while. This time I was able to get a lot closer before it decided we were too close.
It moved to another tree, a shorter one, where it sat right in the top branches, clearly outlined against yesterday’s gloriously blue skies. Finally!