BRILLIANT BITTERN @ SPROTBROUGH FLASH
On Sunday 30th of September I visited Sprotbrough Flash Nature Reserve which is located in the Don Gorge just off the A1 and a few miles west of Doncaster. There are two hides and a viewing screen over looking a long thin lake with the River Don bordering the reserve to the south and a large woodland area to the north. There is also The Boat Inn close to the edge of the reserve should you require food and drink.
It was a cloudy day when I arrived and after parking next to the pub I walked along the riverside path to the viewing screen at the start of the reserve. The viewing screen looks out over the eastern end of the flash and from here it was very quiet with just a couple of Wood Pigeons flying about so I continued along the path. To my left on the river there were a couple of Mallards and a lone Mute Swan and after a few hundred yards I reached the first hide which is usually a good spot to see the Kingfisher at this time of year.
At the far side of the water I could see several Cormorants, a single Grey Heron and a pair of Mute Swans. On the water there were Gadwalls, Coots and two Shovelers whilst closer to the hide there was a pair of Little Grebes. Over to the left I spotted a single Great Crested Grebe diving for food and to the right, after a few minutes, I saw a Bittern fly along the water and land at the edge of the reeds a couple of hundred yards away.
A minute or so later a Jay flew across the water and landed in a tree at the far side and it was joined soon after by another Jay. Only a couple of minutes had passed when both Jays left the tree and flew off over the trees to the left along the edge of the water. A group of about ten Black Headed Gulls now flew over the hide and headed towards the Cormorants and Heron. The Mute Swans did not appreciate this sudden influx of Black Headed Gulls and proceeded to move towards them and started honking at them until they left.
When they left the Bittern started behaving differently and began to puff up its neck feathers and started bouncing its head up and down. It continued doing this for at least ten minutes before flying off down the water to the left and landing in the reeds about one hundred yards from the hide. I left the hide and continued along the path hoping that the Bittern might have made its way down to the next hide when I got there.
As I reached the next hide I saw another Grey Heron sat on the branches of a tree that had fallen into the river. From the hide I could see a couple more Cormorants as well as a pair of Coots and a Gadwall which swam quite close to the hide. A group of about a dozen Crows flew over the field at the far side and landed in a tree and after a few minutes I left the hide, spotting a Wren in the trees to the left as I headed back down the path back towards the first hide.
I was halfway between the hides when the Kingfisher darted from right to left down the river and out of sight. When I reached the pub I continued along the path by a small section of the river where it splits in two with one side going through a weir and the other going through Sprotbrough Lock. I continued up to Sprotbrough Lock to see if the Kingfisher had reached here but there was no sign. As I walked back along the path to the car I saw a group of Long Tailed Tits moving through the trees above me and over on the far side of the river there was a Robin sat on a rock at the edge.
I have attached a few photos and a full sightings list from my visit to Sprotbrough Flash.