Archive for December 9th, 2007

9th December 2007, Sunday

Walland Marsh Raptors

A break in the rain this afternoon encouraged me out to an area of rough grassland and reeds on Walland Marsh that I frequently watch for raptors. For once, after the rains, the site really lived up to its name. Squelching along the muddy track the first bird spotted was a kestrel, and then a number of marsh harriers. I counted a maximum of 6 birds at any one time, but they were moving backwards and forwards between two distant sites so it was difficult to say how many birds were present in total. One of these, a female, was intent on agressively mobbing a barn owl. In the end the two birds dropped behind some reeds and I assumed the worst. I have been told from several sources that a few weeks ago a local wildfowler reported a marsh harrier taking a barn owl at this site. This was not the fate for my bird however, it reappeared about 15 minutes later and continued hunting unmolested. One of the marsh harriers was now being chased itself by a couple of crows.

Highlight of the afternoon was a beautiful male hen harrier that glided over the reedbed in front of me for five minutes before dropping down to roost for the night.

9th December 2007, Sunday

Powdermill Res WeBS

In spite of quite astonishing weather, I managed to count the wildfowl this morning, and found record numbers for the site of Gadwall (94) and Mandarin (22). Cormorants, at 14, were in good (or if you’re an angler, bad) numbers.

On the nice new BTO WeBSite, you can compare records over the last few decades. For Powdermill I discovered some rather interesting changes, for instance in the 60’s Pochard and Tufted Duck were present in their hundreds, whereas now the former are very scarce and the latter rarely more than 50. In those days, it appears, there were no grebes. We all know, however, that Gadwall were only invented fairly recently.

Fields around Brede Bridge are now flooded more than ever. An adult Peregrine was there this morning – not the one I saw last week, which was an imm, and the Kingfisher seems a regular at the bridge, though surely it can’t be so foolhardy as to try fishing in those turbulent waters.

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9th December 2007, Sunday

Castle Water at dawn

The weather forecast for later today was awful, so I got out to Castle Water at dawn. The reward was the aerobatics of thousands of Lapwing in a brief spell of sunshine, before the grey clouds came over, the wind increased and the rain started…


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