Thursday, 17 January 2013

A Huge Dollop Of Jam

The moment of jam came just before 1pm, when I was driving down to the Estuary for a check of the gulls.  

Just as I was approaching the end of Scalwell Lane, my brain - that was busy dreaming about the Ring-billed Gull I was about find - had a sudden shock.  I could see a very distinctive shape flying east (well east south east to be precise) probably only less than 10m above roof top height, right opposite me. In the few seconds it took me to pull over and grab my bins, I had already sussed it as a medium-sized harrier-like long-winged raptor. Bins up - Hen Harrier!  I was looking at a bloody Hen Harrier!!! As it continued on east (and as I was causing a traffic incident!) I got good views of its upper parts (nice big fat square white rump - so am happy I eliminated both the smaller harrier sp. despite the relatively brief view) and the birds left upper wing.  I phoned Gav, and quickly sent a text out, then shot round to the Estuary in the hope it was going to hang around.  Stupidly I went to the farm gate, when really I should have stopped near Tesco and scanned Seaton Marshes, as this is where it would have passed over if it continued flying in the same direction.  I soon bumped into Gav. Sadly neither of us bumped into the Hen Harrier.

This is only the second Hen Harrier I've ever seen on patch - I ticked it as recently as Oct 2011. And as far as I'm aware, this is our first mid-winter record (though I could well be wrong).  Hen Harrier certainly kicks Goldeneye off as my 'most precious patch year tick' so far.  It was totally off the radar too - my brain has been thinking about waders, wildfowl, gulls and finch flocks - I haven't once thought about a bird of prey. We do have a lot of food about for it, so there's got to be a chance its going to linger. It may even roost in the valley, if not, maybe Trinity Hill or Gittisham Common? Got to be worth a look.

So, how has the rest of my day been?

Well Gav saw the Goosander again late yesterday afternoon on the Estuary, so I was out before dawn today hoping to finally get it on the year list.  She's certainly an early riser - as yet again there was no sign of it.  Two Gadwall on the Estuary just north of Coronation Corner were very nice to see though, another cold weather-related year tick.  I think my best photography year tick too...

In my defence  it was still fairly dark!

I then went for an hours sea watch off Beer, which would have been seriously dire were it not for a five minute spell of action.  There was nothing too exciting, but 15 Wigeon, 10 Common Scoter, four Red-throated Divers, a Teal (with the Wigeon) and a Shelduck flew west.  Outside of this five minute period, three more Common Scoters east (a pair and a single) were as good as it got. 

This afternoon, after the raptor excitement, the Estuary showed nothing better than two adult Med Gulls.  One looked like this...

Not quite the 800 at Ferrybridge!

 And the other looked like this...

Already getting a bit of a hood

With two year ticks today, and another just prior to work yesterday (in the form of Common Sandpiper from Coronation Corner at 14:45) - that's three year ticks since my last blog post.  Hopefully soon after I've posted this I'll notch up another.  For the first time this week, I am able to be where a Goosander should be at 4pm.  It's been here at this time for the last three days, but each day I couldn't be there. Today I can, so let's wait and see. Keep an eye on my twitter feed to the right, you'll read it there first!

No comments:

Post a Comment