Sunday, 15 July 2012

A Montagu's Harrier at Champion Moor, Lancashire

July 12-15, 2012:
A male Montagu's Harrier, a species which in Britain is usually restricted to the Norfolk area, was first spotted here on Wednesday, the11th, by sharp-eyed Burnley bird-watcher Graham Gavaghan. This appears to be the first-ever record for the Bowland area although the related Hen Harrier occasionally passes through. By weekend as the word spread, up to 100 watchers took up strategic positions on the narrow country roads across the moor.

The bird appeared to restrict itself to an area perhaps one mile in diameter comprising rough grassland over which it periodically hunted. This was usually at very low level, little more than wall-top height and with a twisting flight, but occasionally it would soar high before descending to another part of the moor. When on the ground it was usually hidden amongst the vegetation, sometimes for up to two hours or more, but it would eventually take flight and make a foray over the moor in search of prey.

On one occasion it perched on a broken wall and spent much time preening but most views were when in flight. It had a large area of black towards the wing tips, the arrangement of its primary wing feathers was typical (visible in the top photo), and it had a long tail and a sleek appearance. Unfortunately the bird was usually quite distant making detailed photographs difficult.

Soaring, and so arousing fears of an imminent and permanent departure

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Hobby at Brockholes Wetlands, Lancashire

June 27, 2012:
Today a Hobby was making regular circuits of the pools, sometimes banking and swerving to take insects, probably dragonflies. On one occasion (photo sequence below) it appeared to catch something much larger which so far remains unidentified.