On Thursday, I spent a couple of hours at Potteric Carr to see if I could photograph a bittern. I parked in the car park that isn't locked at 5pm and made sure I knew how to leave the reserve when the main exit through the centre was closed. After a quick wander around the Huxter Well Marsh and finding little moving about due to the wind, I decided to camp out in the hide overlooking Piper Marsh, the reedbed where the bitterns had been seen that morning.
As I sat and watched the sun go down, enjoying the lovely light and the gorgeous colours being thrown across the marsh, little egrets and starlings headed towards Low Ellers Marsh. The marsh is now inaccessible due to the closure of the railway crossing point. and unfortunately, it sounds as though there is a good chance that this closure could be made permanent (Network Rail have closed it for safety reasons). If this happens, a chunk of the reserve will be permanently off limits.
As the shadows lengthened, I willed a bittern to fly across in front of me. A buzzard flew low hassling anything it could, the ducks were frantically dabbling for a last morsel before sunset, a jay laboriously flew to roost, more starlings hurried past and the sun bowed its head for the night. A few minutes past sunset, as the light became very flat and poor, one bittern flew lazily past the hide and into the reeds. I managed to snap a couple of record shots, on which Adobe Lightroom worked its magic, but none was good enough to add to the website proper.
Location tip - Potteric Carr is managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Entry is £4 for adults but free to Wildlife Trust members. The YWT is unusual in that it will allow members of ANY Wildlife Trust free entry into its flagship reserve (most Wildlife Trusts only allow members of their own county's Trust free entry to reserves they charge for). So, if you are a member of Notts Wildlife Trust (as I am) or Norfolk Wildlife Trust or any other county Wildlife Trust and have a membership card, take it with you if you are planning a visit to Potteric Carr and would prefer not to pay. You can stay in the reserve past closing if you ensure your car is parked in the car park across the road from the visitor centre. The staff are most helpful and will direct you to this car park if you ask and also tell you how to get out of the reserve after hours as the exit is not sign posted!