Purple Heron at Leighton Moss.
Purple Heron at Leighton Moss - September 2017.
Having moved near to RSPB Leighton Moss just over a year ago, I was determined to go there on a regular, (if not daily!) basis. However, as often works out, "life" has conspired to do the exact opposite and keep me away from visiting the reserve for the whole year. Even checking out the "Recent Sightings" page on their website never entered my mind...... until yesterday. On reading the sightings page, I discovered that approx ten days ago a Purple Heron moved in and was showing well. So I decided that it was time to "re-connect" with Leighton Moss and was walking into the reserve shop within 15 minutes!
Talking to the staff, it appears that it has been showing at the Grisedale Hide at almost any time of the day but that early mornings have been fairly regular. The sightings have been relatively good and within reasonable viewing distance of the hide. The previous days sightings in the book (31-08-2017) showed that it had also been seen mid morning at the same hide. So off I went and sat there in the hide for four and a half hours, during which time, the Purple Heron decided that he would rather be elsewhere!
There was the usual distant sightings of Red Deer, Harriers, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Mallard, Snipe, Mute Swan, etc but previous arrangements meant that I had to leave. I was However, determined that I would return early in the morning, especially as the weather was set for sunny!
I walked through the door of Grisedale Hide the next morning at precisely 08:00. I entered expecting to see a host of "spectators" for the coming event, but was pleasantly surprised to see only two other occupants. As I closed the door behind me, I heard one of the other two guys say "what's this coming in?" and as I turned around and looked out of the large windows in the centre of the hide, I was very happy to see that the bird flying in out of the sun, was indeed the Purple Heron! Right on time as well, in fact maybe a bit too early as I still had all my gear packed away in my bags! So, I missed the incoming "bird in flight" shots but was relieved to see him touch down about 50 yards off the left hand side of the hide and with only three of us in the hide, there was plenty of room for us all shooting out of the two side windows. So I sat down and prayed that he would stay around long enough to get my gear set up.
He did. The lighting was good but he was face on to it. This meant that if he hunted or turned to the left he was going to be in slightly gloomy light and if he hunted or turned to the right he would be in danger of over exposing. So setting up in manual mode (as always) and tweaking the +/- exposure compensation when necessary was simple enough.
Hard to find at first as I had taken my eye off the heron to set up my gear but the other guys soon had me zero'd in. Over the next half an hour he hunted amongst various grassy or reedy landscapes and through various depths of water and became more, or less, visible as he did so......
...... Inevitably coming out into the open on a few occasions.
After a while, he attracted the attention of a passing Grey Heron and was attacked and chased off.
Luckily for us, he only went a few metres but not much further away in distance...... but he did hide up for a while before coming out again.
All good things come to an end and surely enough about one hour and fifty minutes after arriving, he flew away in the general direction of the bottom end of the causeway.... never to be seen again that day apparently!
Lucky old me, eh!
A slideshow of the Purple Heron images can be seen by navigating to the "Purple Heron Collection" in the "Stock Bird Images by Species" section in Abigail's Gallery.
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