Monday, 1 February 2010

Hey, Little Hen

All pics (c) 2010 Vince Cowell
Bar-tailed Godwit - tug of war
Record shot of Hen Harrier
Record shot of Hen Harrier
Yesterday, I’d just transcribed the latest batch of HVWG sightings when Vince asked if I was free. The excursion started well with a Peregrine scattering the pigeons on a local place of detention. We went to Tuesday’s location, but it was fairly quiet with only a Marsh Harrier quartering the saltmarsh. There were good views of Brent Geese, Knot, Grey Plovers & Dunlin. We met a couple of Knaresboro’ birders in the car park, who had just been watching a male Hen Harrier disappear behind a long string of Hawthorn bushes – we were about 2 minutes too late. They had been to Stone Creek where they saw 6 Stone Buntings & where a male Hen Harrier had been seen earlier that morning. We dropped off at Stone Creek on the way back. We didn’t see the Buntings but there were excellent views of winter-plumaged Bar-tailed Godwits. We decided to do the Keyingham Marsh loop and among the Common Gulls was a similar-coloured bird flying quite differently. And lo, it had black wing-tips with no white mirrors, and it had a white rump. It flew along a hedge throwing up many pigeons, and clouds of distant sparrow-sized birds. Its flight wasn’t as methodical as a Barn Owl quartering a field edge, but it continually changed direction before flying across the road we were on - only a few yards ahead of us. It seemed to be heading in the direction of Cherry Cobb Sands. That was by far the best sighting of the day.

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