Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Raptor Rapture

Star of this Afternoon's Class
Short-eared Owl (c) 2010 Marcus Conway
Marsh Harrier [male] - with water droplets
Marsh Harrier - male - with gleam in eye
Marsh Harrier (c) 2010 Tony Robinson
Marsh Harrier [female]
Long-tailed Tit
Reed Bunting
Black-headed Gull - injured, and dying?
It was a day of excitement in the 1st ten minutes & in the last 15 minutes with yawning gaps of nothingness inbetween, or am I romancing? 3 Marsh Harriers gave great value for money as they danced over an area of reedbed. There were 2 males and 1 female, and they were either fighting over the favours of the female, or sparring over a specific area of reedbed. We heard a Cetti's Warbler singing in the distance, and some alarm calls of another closer to our viewpoint, but we failed to see either of them. We carried on round the reserve, and saw a variety of wildlfowl, but probably less than you expect at this time of year. One highlight was a flock of c.20 Wigeon on the Humber. I had my lunch next to the feeders, and managed close views of most of the usual suspects, but didn't see the Willow Tit. The afternoon class went to a new location, and for the 1st hour or so, we hardly saw a single species, although we did have a Kestrel as we drove to the car park, and a Marsh Harrier as we were about to start. Later, we saw a flock of Redshank, some distant Lapwings, and finally a Buzzard near the railway line, but very little on the way back to the cars. We waited for a snow shower to abate, and then walked along a drain bank. We saw some distant Reed Buntings, plenty of Magpies, some Carrion Crows, and a pair of Mute Swans, but very little else. Some of the morning group who came on to this site had a brief glimpse of a Snipe, and though I heard one in the afternoon we couldn't spot it. We were on the way back and it looked as though we were heading for a miserable 2.5 out of 10, but we watched a male Kestrel flying low over the rough grassland. The Kestrel didn't appear to be carrying any prey, but a Short-eared Owl burst out of the grass and gave chase. The Owl then lunged for the falcon, which twisted & turned to try to escape, but the Owl kept up its chase for several minutes. Once the chase was over the owl settled on a fencepost at the edge of a conifer plantation. It then permitted us to get closer, until everyone had a fantastic view of all its plumage detail. Unfortunately, I left my camera in the car during the snow storm, so I'm extremely grateful to Marcus Conway for allowing me to use his SEO to illustrate this blog entry. Hope our future visits to this site will be as exciting. Carol's final session mark: 11 out of 10!

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