During last week I managed to decipher a Thai language report of a Great Bittern on the Kasetsart University Campus at Kampaengsaen. It’s just to the north of Nakhon Pathom so it’s about an hour away. Its continued presence was confirmed from a further report yesterday so I thought I better give it a go.
This must rank as a very lucky twitch because with the help of some other birders I got the bittern. How I even got into the right area is a minor miracle because the campus is huge. But I did. I knew it was reported to be in reedbeds in marshy swamp near the Department of Animal Science but there are quite a lot of reedbeds there and the area is still huge. However the presence of other birders was confirmation that I was in the right area.
I spent a couple of hours scanning the reed beds to no avail. For my efforts I was blessed with the wonderful spectacle of a male Pied Harrier doing a bit of early morning quartering, and lots of weavers and Zitling Cisticolas, and a male and female Plaintive Cuckoo.
Then the other birders attracted my attention so I went over. Many thanks . Collins Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe was also a huge help with its description of behaviour being spot on: “….rarely seen on the ground, (stays hidden in the reedbed)……adopts camouflage posture with bill pointing up, (‘bitterning posture’)”. So when I went over to join the other birders I caught a glimpse of its bill and then down it went. I could hardly make a claim on a bill so I hung around, knowing where it went down and confident that in time it would show again. About thirty minutes later it did and stayed visible for about five minutes before flying a short distance into reeds. That was enough for me …….. I had had a good view of the bird through my scope, had seen it fly and had even managed a couple of shots – little photographic merit but records.I didn’t think getting in close and disturbing the bird was warranted so I was delighted to take the tick and move on, in my case, home!
A truly beautiful bird, a lifer, and another หายาก (“ha yak”). It’s certainly a rarity but not a mega – there are a handful of records most years. So a successful and very fortunate twitch.