Wednesday, 16 February 2011

What's the Gos?

Probable Goshawk (c) 2011 Aileen Urquhart
Red Kite (c) 2011 Aileen Urquhart
Red Kite
Record shot of Buzzard
Record shot of Buzzard
Marsh Tit

Today we travelled the best part of 100 miles to visit the only reliable site for Goshawks displaying. We saw 3 Red Kites in the sky at the same time with 6 Buzzards also visible. A Green Woodpecker yaffled three times in the morning, and we had a brief sighting of a Great Spotted Woodpecker too. A pair of Mistle Thrushes rattled away at us, but the male couldn't be bothered to sing! Marsh Tits give us the runaround in the morning, but they came out easily in the afternoon. A sighting of 7 Bullfinches was the highest figure I've seen at this site. Other birds seen or heard of the 35 recorded today include: Treecreeper, Pied Wagtail, Long-tailed Tits, Song Thrush, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Mallard, and Mallard. A day of quality rather than quantity sightings. At the furthest point of the walk, at 10.45, just before we were due to turn around I spotted a possible Goshawk soaring directly above us. The bird circled a few times, showing its white undertail coverts, while its tail was relatively short in relation to the rest of the bird, and it had large rounded, almost club-like wings. It was not as large as a Buzzard, so cannot have been a female Goshawk. It then flew fairly low over a stand of conifers its white coverts still showing even though the bird was displaying its back to us. It then rose steeply almost vertically above the conifers, and then suddenly plummeted down towards the tree line again; it repeated this procedure a couple of times before disappearing completely. About 10 minutes later a raptor flew towards us being mobbed by a crow. Some 'students' claimed it was another Goshawk, but for me the tail was a lot longer for the size of the bird, and there was no sign of white undertail coverts, for me it was a classic view of a female Sparrowhawk! The class were suitably overwhelmed by the display they had witnessed earlier. Many other people arrived later to try & witness a similar display, but as far as I know the bird wasn't seen again by either the afternoon group or by the other visitors.

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