Having suffered all Monday working whilst knowing a major year tick was just a few miles up the A1, Wednesdays fine weather broke my resolve and I headed for Morpeth. Parking in the lay bye at the bottom of Worral bank I walked back along the river to where the bird was being reported, passing a group of four Yorkshire birders heading in the oppsite direction, the bird having been seen flying downstream. After a chat with a chap I often meet on these occasions I decided to set up vantage on the bend in the river with views downstream and upstream to the metal bridge where many birders were already gathered. After fifteen minutes or so just as the numbing cold was beginning to take effect a small Heron, obviously my target for the day flew towards me and I snatched a few flight shots as it approached then filled the viewfinder and landed a mere twenty feet away.
The light was not good and the views obscured by reeds / grass but I watched as the bird hunted using floating vegetation on the swollen river as a platform. Amazingly small like an overgrown Redshank it worked its way down the river edge.
Becoming harder to spot in the vegetation frustrating TT and JM who had joined me with their big lenses it eventually flew back to near the metal bridge where the next fifteen minutes were spent chatting with the many birders, bloggers, photographers present and trying to spot the bird in vegetation. It then took off and flew toward the bridge amazingly white in the late afternoon sun it took a brief glance at the assembled throng and circled once before flying over our heads upstream.
Here it was nervous for a while crossing the river back and forth a few times before settling on the far bank where it fished for five minutes or so and some better images were obtained despite the poor light.
A generous bird and so much better than my previous experience with a Squacco Heron at East Chevington when mere silhouette views in flight were obtained. Strangely, this bird has probably been there two weeks as all the dog walking locals were familiar with it. On that basis I'm now off to find that Hoopoe at Hepscott a little old lady told me about at the weekend!