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Sunday, 30 November 2014

Marsh Harrier versus Peregrine Falcons!

As it was a bright, pleasant early Winters day, I decided to pop to my local RSPB reserve, Greylake, for an hour or 2 at lunch time.
   After taking a few pictures of the little birds in the car park I walked to the hide that overlooked the reserve. Immediately I was aware of the amount of ducks present, their whistles and calls giving them away before I'd even entered the hide!
  On entering I could see Teal, Mallard, Wigeon and Shoveler, but before I could sit down on a bench and lift a window to look out, the Ducks had taken to the air in huge wheeling flocks! I saw what had caused the commotion straight away, a beautiful Marsh Harrier, passing lazily over the reeds.
   Great timing I thought to myself!
20 minutes or so later, another Marsh Harrier came over, a different one I think, it looked a lot darker. Again, chaos ensued, but this time, through the flocks of duck I could see a very fast bird dive-bombing the Harrier! It was a Pergrine Falcon! Again and again it stooped at the larger bird of prey, and the Harrier twisted in the air in preparation for the aerial attacks, pointing it's talons at the oncoming Falcon!
  Eventually the Harrier was seen off, and I noticed that there was in fact 2 Peregrines! They then turned there attentions to a couple of Crows sitting in a low bush, dive-bombing them too!
  The Falcons then made a couple of low passes at the many flying Teal but failed to make a kill.
One landed on a fence post and stayed there for a few minutes, before the 2 birds flew off in the distance towards the Polden Hills, where they seemed to make a kill! They both twisted and fell to earth, then one emerged again, definitely carrying something in it's talons!
   A wonderful packed hour of birdwatching! I only wish I had a better lens with a longer reach for moments such as these! I hope you are listening, Father Christmas! ;)

Below are some of the pictures I did manage to catch;

   ^ Above ^ - Marsh Harrier being mobbed by a Peregrine Falcon!

 ^ Above ^ - Marsh Harrier..... the bird is at the top of the picture in the 2 bottom shots.

 ^ Above ^ - 2 Peregrines.

 ^ Above ^ - Peregrine stoops at 2 Crows in a bush!

 ^ Above ^ - Peregrine Falcon

 ^ Above ^ - Kestrel. In the top shot it's being mobbed by a Meadow Pipit!

 ^ Above ^ - Wigeon, Shoveler, Mallard and Teal...not sure which duck is the one at the top in the middle with the orange belly!

 ^ Above ^ - Flocks of various ducks put up by the birds of prey!

 ^ Above ^ - Wigeon

 ^ Above ^ - Heron

 ^ Above ^ - Teal

 ^ Above ^ - A pair of Mallard

 ^ Above ^ - top 2, female Shoveler, bottom 2, male Shoveler

 ^ Above ^ - Female House Sparrow

 ^ Above ^ - Dunnock

 ^ Above ^ - Robin

 ^ Above ^ - Starling

Friday, 7 November 2014

Sparrowhawk in my garden!

It isn't always planned field trips or chance encounters whilst out exploring the countryside that makes for a worthy blog post. Today a brief moment viewed from my kitchen window is more than enough to have me here writing and posting pics!
   Sparrowhawks have long been one of my favourite birds. Often only viewed  for a second or 2 as one passes swiftly on a hunt, or seen swirling on the thermals, sometimes so high up that they are little more than a dot in the sky. It's rare that you get the chance for a close detailed view of this beautiful bird of prey, and even rarer the chance to photograph one close up!
    I was making a cup of tea when my other half, Nicola, suddenly exclaimed 'There's a Sparrowhawk in the garden!'
  Sure enough, just 10 feet away on a branch of our Bird Cherry, sat the Sparrowhawk, which I think was a female. I quickly grabbed my camera, as on the handful of other occasions that one has landed in our garden it always disappears again pretty soon after!
   The bird posed quite nicely for a couple of minutes before flying off suddenly. A Woodpigeon sat on a neighbouring branch was unconcerned by it's presence.
   The light was poor and I was shooting at an angle through the kitchen window, but I'm quite happy with the shots, certainly the best I've ever managed of a Sparrowhawk!
A thrilling moment in an otherwise typical Autumn day!