It did rain though, and I did sit quietly. To pass the time until the massive pike I did a lot of birding, adding 11 species to my 'Birds While Fishing' list. Some were drossy stuff like Chaffinch and Rook, etc. but some were proper quality!
At one stage I was fishing virtually underneath the M5, and glancing behind me noticed four egrets flying away at an angle. Through the bins I was astonished to see a pale bill and the jizz of a Cattle Egret on at least two of them. I didn't get a chance to look at the others because within about three seconds they had all gone out of view, seemingly up and over the motorway. I waited anxiously for them to reappear, but they didn't. However, I refused to believe they had headed west via the M5 and sure enough, finally I spotted four egrets dropping into a distant field to my right. They had obviously flown behind me unseen before reorienting themselves a bit further north. It had to be them. Unfortunately though, they were dots. I hurried up the towpath to get closer. Even then they were much too far away to see the bill colour, plus I was getting battered about by the wind and couldn't find anything to rest my bins on. Thankfully they had alighted next to a Little Egret, and as they all prodded about in the grass together their shorter necks and slightly smaller size soon became evident; they looked a lot 'busier' than the Little Egret too.
So, confident of the ID at last, and not yet being a suppressor, I put the news out via Twitter. To be honest I couldn't see anyone rushing down to see them; as far as I could tell they weren't near anywhere that you could roll up in a car and view from, and Cattle Egret hasn't been a crowd-puller for some time now. So imagine my delight when I later learned that Martin Elcoate, a Topsham resident who follows me on Twitter, had managed to scope them from his bedroom window. I felt positively virtuous.
Other birdy quality came in the shape of a single adult Med Gull among a haystack of BHGs and Commons, some Knot flying around with a Barwit, and this beauty on the canal itself...
|Drake Red-breasted Merganser. Obviously.|
I met three other pike anglers today. One of them caught one pike. All the rest of us didn't.