Squacco Heron – Cerney Wick, Gloucestershire

On the Saturday I had rung Birdline to hear of a Squacco Heron at Cerney Wick near the Cotswold Water Park on the Wiltshire/Gloucestershire border. I couldn’t just leave Sara and the girls, it was mid afternoon and with Laura’s Christening on Sunday I wouldn’t be able to make an early morning trip either. 

Fortunately the quarterly Electronic Banking Seminar had been re-arranged for 30th June / 1st July and I would be travelling to Bristol via Swindon on Monday morning. This would mean driving within 10 miles of Cerney Wick. The bird, a first summer individual, was quoted as being elusive and was moving between Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. When I rang from Pam & Terry’s house on Sunday evening the bird seemed to have settled down on a particular pond next to the road.

The alarm was set for 6:30am and by 8:50am I was getting out of the car by the disused railway bridge which had been mentioned on Birdline. There were several other birders who had also just arrived and they were starting to scan the pond through the tiny gaps in the line of trees. Soon the bird was found and I snatched a quick glimpse through their telescopes. It was difficult to get onto the Heron and so I decided that I would need to find my own gap in the trees through which to view. I managed to find a better vantage point and watched the Squacco Heron unobscured by branches. 

All the other birders joined me and we took turns in watching the bird through my telescope. There had been several late spring records this year but none had been easily twitchable, until now. 

The Heron had a lovely buffy pink tinge to the back and wispy plumes and a stripy head pattern that ran down its nape and shoulders rather like a long haircut. The pond seemed crisp and clear and was well stocked with fish, which unfortunately for the Wiltshire birders meant that the Heron looked likely to stay in Gloucestershire, 100 yards from the border.

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