A Squacco Heron Visits Nottingham

A real rarity turns up in Nottingham.

jpg imageOn 30th June 1998 I visited Martin's Pond in Wollaton, less than three miles west of the city centre, to look for a bird I had never heard of before. The gaze of about a dozen other visitors led me in the right direction. This white and buff coloured heron was far from home. Its European, Summer residences are southern Spain, the Balkans and two small areas in France. It is a real rarity in Britain, only reported in Nottinghamshire twice before, both of those sitings many years ago. This bird had been seen a few days earlier at Attenborough and then reported on Martin's Pond on the 29th.

The buff smudge, which I had spotted as I walked up, moved into the reeds just as I focused on it with my binoculars. I waited patiently for a while, enjoying watching tufted duck, moorhen, grey heron and mallard in the meantime, until the squacco heron reappeared from amongst the reeds. I took some photographs, watched it some more and was in the middle of taking some more pictures when it took off. I continued to photograph it in flight, guessing that the pictures would be blurred, but also knowing that I would never have another chance. Shortly afterwards it disappeared deep into the reedbeds.

As I returned to my car, covering up my binoculars, another hopeful watcher approached and asked if it was still there. I hope he saw it too, not just to add another tick to his list, but because there is pleasure in watching the natural world. That goes for the rarity and the commonplace; squacco heron or tufted duck.

Within a day or two the heron had moved on, disappearing as mysteriously as it arrived. Sadly, it has not been seen in Nottingham since.