Our jaunt around the reserve began with the sighting of a white throat, singing loudly and making himself obvious (for a welcome change). A beautiful little bird, I often hear but do not see these, and usually have even less of a chance to snap a photo of them! This one posed nicely.
Reaching our first viewpoint (New Fen), we were lucky enough to almost immediately spot a large oddly shaped bird flying low over the reeds, then landing quite suddenly. My first confirmed sighting of a bittern! Whilst we sat and watched, we were treated to views of a marsh harrier gliding over the pool and surrounding reed beds. This beautiful bird seemed to be looking for prey, but apparently wasn't finding anything worth trying for. The calls of house martins and swifts above were glorious and the insects had been brought low enough that the Hirundines and swifts swooped low enough that we could see the white rumps of the martins with ease and could marvel at their aerial agility.
We also spotted a lovely freshly emerged damselfly, which I am unable to identify. On our way to the next viewpoint, we spotted more white throats calling, displaying and often fighting off rivals amongst the reeds.
A family of coots (somebody else had thrown bread in before we arrived) awaited us at the Mere hide. There was little else to see here, except, most excitingly, a tantalising glimpse of a male bearded tit zipping across the pool and landing deeply in reeds so as not to be glimpsed again. This was one of my wildlife aims for the year - to see a wild bearded tit! The next mission will be to photograph one.
Next, we paid a visit to 'Joist Fen Viewpoint'. Here, I spotted three cuckoos calling and fighting; a real turn up for the books having not heard a single one so far this year. Another piece of excitement here was hearing the little bittern calling from deep within a reedbed. We did not wait to see it - some photographers had been waiting for hours to see the bird making that interesting booming / barking sound.
Walking back along the River Little Ouse, we spotted another first for me - a hobby. It was gliding and swooping, on the hunt for dragonflies. We even saw it catch and eat a dragonfly on the wing. Fantastic bird!
We had a lovely day at this reserve - I hope to visit again soon!