This Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) had been present at Capel Gwyn on Anglesey since the 18th November, but it wasn't until the 23rd before I had the chance to see it.
It's not a truly rare bird in Britain (it even bred here in 2010), with the nearest established breeding populations as close as France and the Netherlands, but it's quite scarce. They can be quite skulking and I for one had never seen one in Britain before.
The bird hadn't been seen by the time I arrived at around 09:45, but before I could even start scanning for it myself, a lone birder on a footpath out in the scrub appeared to gesture that he'd found it. I was surprised there was someone out there, never mind the he'd found the bird without flushing it.
I was impressed that all the birders stayed on the road to view, rather than trampling closer. And although at first we struggled to pick it out from our vantage point on the bridge, the bird soon came out to show itself, although always partially obscured by some grass or twigs.
Purple Heron, Capel Gwyn, Anglesey - 23rd November 2014
It was a juvenile, looking browner than the adult purple-grey, although the purple tinge was clear in the sunshine. The brown cap in particular was a dark mauve-brown. There were plenty of Grey Herons around to compare the bird with too.
It caught and attempted to eat what looked like a large eel, but struggled and gave up. After this it hunkered down out of view and didn't show again (despite dog walkers passing very close) until after I had left. Well worth the trip - a nice bird in a nice setting (with the bonus of bumping into some birding friends while I was there).
The day before, Saturday 22nd, I took my six-year-old son to Rodley Nature Reserve, not far from where we live. I often take my children there; it's a great place for kids to explore.
It's is my Patchwork Challenge patch, but I don't get there anywhere near as often as I'd like - the opening hours don't help either (Sat/Sun/Wed only, 10am-4pm). As ever, we weren't disappointed: highlights were two Water Rail, Snipe, Tree Sparrow, Little Owl, and this showy Kingfisher, aka "The best bird ever" according to my son!
Kingfisher, Rodley Nature Reserve, West Yorkshire - 22nd November 2014