Back in late October when the Glossy Ibis flock appeared on the island, I was lucky enough to see them pretty well on the first day as they fed on the Old Aerodrome. A few of the flock then stayed around for a while but my only further sniff of them was a distant view of two birds flying past the Reservoir one evening. Eventually those few remaining birds depleted to just one youngster and that bird has now fully wintered here. Despite the ibises' favoured fields being just 5 minutes from my place of work, I have not seen any all winter. I have driven past these fields quite a few times but there has not been any there whenever I have tried. I have been unlucky I guess.
However, in the last few days, the remaining immature bird has visited the Rue des Bergers area once or twice. It was even seen coming right down to the pond there, just in front of the hide, giving great views. As I had not seen the Glossy Ibis very close compared to most people, I was keen to get good views. On both the Monday and the Tuesday of this week, I popped to RDB after work but there was no sign.
On Wednesday 7th Feb the sun had come out for almost the first time in 2018 and since (unusually in these oppressive times) I did not have to work through my lunch hour, I thought I'd give it another go. I pulled into the empty car park, and peered through the trees towards the pond but couldn't see it there, so I wandered down the road a bit. Suddenly, the Glossy Ibis did appear, across the road, circling low over the trees at the far side of the field. Chuffed to finally see it, it gave pretty good views albeit a bit far off.
It dropped and disappeared behind the hedge and so I walked down the lane a bit more and saw it in the grassy field to my right. The views were quite poor here since the sun was behind it and I was peering through dense shrubbery. It seemed settled and so I didn't expect any better views.
I wandered back up the lane and decided to try and sneak round the sunny side of the bird for perhaps a few better photos. I found a farmer's track without a gate closed across it and so I toddled down there a little way even though the track was sodden and my school shoes were getting a touch waterlogged and dirty (good job I literally don't care!). I managed to creep along the track far enough to get on the correct side of the bird and I was going to take a few snaps when a female Pheasant exploded from the field and spooked the Ibis (it wasn't me gov' - honest!). It took flight and did a couple of circuits of the field, flying quite close - although I couldn't quite get my focussing/shutter speed quite right.
I presumed that the bird was going to drop back into the same field, but as it descended, it crossed the road and looked like it might have landed in front of the hide. Gulp! I sprinted back down the lane and, out of breath, I peered through the trees towards the pond. However I could not see it, and there was also no sign in the adjacent field. Perhaps I was mistaken and it had flown further on. I scurried down the muddy path towards the second, lower hide where, looking through the hole in the broken fence, I was astounded to see that the bird was just stood there scratching, barely a few metres away! I couldn't see it before because it was literally behind the hide! I watched it through the fence for a minute and took a few obscured pictures, as I was concerned that any noise caused by me entering the hide and opening the flaps may scare it off.
However, I needn't have worried. The bird did not seem to give a monkeys that I was poking my ugly mug and the camera out of the hide window. I can't remember the last time I have managed to get so close to a rare bird. Taking photos was like shooting fish in a barrel, especially with the sun being mostly out. I had an enjoyable 5 or 10 minutes taking as many snaps as possible as the bird bathed and preened right in front of me, before I had to dash back to work. I even remembered to take a quick movie and selfie! It was such a privilege and a memorable moment. Not the glossiest of Glossy Ibises but pretty terrific nevertheless.