Friday, 21 September 2012

Bitten but no Bittern

Blimey it was chilly today! I spent the morning at Tophill in North Marsh hide hoping to see yesterday’s reported Bittern. The weather was rainy, and the wind was in the north-east, right into the hide.
The morning began with some distant views of a Barn Owl that appeared to be chasing Woodpigeons out of the trees. Given the rain and the potential of damage to its plumage, this sight was something of a surprise – but a welcome one nonetheless.

A Mute Swan came into view, and mounted the bank in front of the hide. The next twenty minutes was spent in frantic preening and washing. The behaviour it exhibited seemed to suggest that it had some uncontrollable itch that it needed to get rid of, but couldn’t. Having done some research on line this afternoon, it appears that swans and other waterfowl can suffer from a parasitic worm that can cause cercarial dermatitis. In humans this same parasite causes “swimmers itch”. It is possible that this swan was infected. After a while the swan disappeared to the other end of the Marsh out of sight.

The Bittern didn’t actually show this morning, which was a shame given that it had been seen fishing yesterday. However, by way of compensation I was treated to some lovely views of one of the Kingfishers and a Long-Tailed Tit.


  1. Great account of your day's birding,pity about the bittern but made up for with the images of the ltt and kingfisher,I've not got an image of a kingfisher this year.

  2. This Kingfisher is most obliging. I went to Tophill again on Saturday and got some more wonderful shots of a male bird. The bittern also showed twice, both times for only about 10 seconds before sneaking back into the reeds. Any time you come to East Yorkshire, I would be happy to show you around.