Twitching the big three
7 January 2011 | Marek Walford
Late December saw an unprecedented purple patch for West Berkshire with Glossy ibis, Great White Egret and Dipper all turning up within a few weeks of each other and all within a six mile radius. They've been understandably popular! This short article gives some details on how to see them.
The Ibis is at Freeman's Marsh, Hungerford. Park in the lay-by on the A4 west of Hungerford (SU334689). Take the public footpath west and the bird has been favouring the stretch of the river near Hopgrass Farm (SU328687). The lay-by only has room for about three cars; alternative parking is available further west along the A4 at Cobbs Farm Shop (make sure you pop in for a coffee) or in Hungerford town centre. The bird shows extremely well, down to about 15 feet. Other birds to look out for include Little Egret, Green Sandpiper, Water Rail, Jack Snipe and Woodcock. Water Voles are also present.
Great White Egret
The Egret frequents a stretch of the River Lambourn at Great Shefford. There is room for about two cars at the pumping station (SU388746). Walk west along the road to view opposite the five cottages (SU386748). The bird is often stood in the sheep field or feeding in the river, with up to eight Little Egrets. If it's in the river it can be out of view as the banks are quite high. Please do not stand on the road-side grass bank as daffodils have been planted there.
The Dipper has only been seen on the weir at Welford (SU409732). Although it has been seen at odd times during the day it is most reliably seen after 3pm and appears to roost under the bridge that crosses the weir. The weir can only be viewed from the bridge (SU410732). Please do not park in the private parking area adjacent to the bridge; there's room for several cars on the side of the road on the other side of the crossroads (SU410733). Hawfinches have been seen in the tall trees to the left of the weir and Firecrests have been seen near the bridge.