Saturday, 17 August 2019

Most Succesful Dip Ever

Odd title for a blog post isn't it.  And having missed a patch first you'd think this post would be downbeat...

Clive and Liz stumbled upon our first patch Cirl Bunting early afternoon today, a male sat out on top of a hedge for about ten minutes.  Frustratingly though by the time Phil and I arrived it had done a bunk, Kev arrived soon after too.  Well done Clive and Liz, a fine reward for all the leg work and it's good to know this species has finally spread to the far south eastern corner of Devon - our corner.

Phil had to leave, so sadly missed out on what happened next - one my best birding experiences for a good few years. No the Cirl Bunting didn't reappear, but I had the shock of the life when a hulking great juvenile Goshawk appeared in the sky in front of us!  First patch record for about 15 years, epic...

Such a distinctive shape, especially the wing shape - that secondary bulge!!

What made is so special were the views we enjoyed.  I've seen plenty of Gos, displaying birds, fly-overs, perched up - even sat on a nest (under license) - but I have never seen one like this.   It was simply loitering, flying backwards and forwards over a small patch of woodland, mobbing Buzzards that came too close and even had a half-arsed attempt at one of the Wood Pigeons it flushed out of the small copse.  You should have seen the cloud of Wood Pigeons that flew out of the trees when the Gos went in! An amazing experience and delighted to share it with Bun, Clive and Liz.

About 15 years ago we had a spate of Goshawk sightings on patch, including a displaying pair and a first-winter that was seen a few times in the valley, but since then not a sniff.  Sorry the photos aren't great, but as far as I'm aware these are probably the first pics ever taken of a Gos on patch...

Rounded tail, deep chest and again, look at the size of those secondaries!
Although only just about viewable in this pic - could clearly see the white fluffy undertail coverts
Mobbing a Buzzard - crap shot but good size comparison
This was taken when it was at it's most distant, but best shot I managed of its underparts - could almost be mistaken for a ringtail Hen Harrier in this pic!

A Gos and Cirl duo would have of course been even better, but honestly, I would have swapped the Cirl for this beast any day of the week. Am pretty confident Cirl will be on my patch list within the not too distant future, but might not see another Gos here for 15 years...

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