11th June 2016
It was a casual start to a Saturday morning and I was just checking my emails when Sarah Harris, who was carrying out her Breeding Bird Survey around the HMWT reserve at Rye Meads, tweeted "PURPLE HERON just flew over my head, low, over Rye Meads toll road - heading towards Roydon." It is a massive area with lots of water, most of it hidden, and so didn't give too much hope of being re-found, although I kept an eye on Twitter.
Rather surprisingly a few minutes later it had indeed been refound sitting in a tree to the east of the toll gate and north of the road. I therefore set off, but all the way expecting it to have left by the time I got there. I drove straight past the RSPB visitor centre and parked by the side of the toll road before the toll gate. It was here that I was told that it had indeed flown off towards Stanstead Innings.
I decided to press on as this was still the shortest route to the Stanstead pit should it have been relocated there, but when I was standing by the toll gate speaking on the phone to Barry Reed getting an update, I heard someone shouting that it flown back. I therefore couldn't be far away. I soon joined the assembled throng of the usual suspects including Colin Wills, Darrel Bryant, Laurence Drummond, Toby Austin, Mike Ilett and Barry.
The bird was sitting quite high up in a willow, although luckily on the outside and not too obscured. It did have a couple of branches obscuring the view but with a little re-positioning down the track and peering through the smallest of holes I was able to get some shots.
This was my second Purple Heron in Hertfordshire, the first being at Amwell on the 6th August 1989, so a great big thank you to Sarah.
Now, what was I planning to do today?