Thursday, 22 March 2012

HEN HARRIER finally nailed


Another fabulous day, with temperatures reaching 64 degrees F mid afternoon in the sunshine and clear blue skies. A fresh South-easterly then set in, increasing as the afternoon went on.

At CHENIES (BUCKS) first thing, I noted my first local RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE of the year, calling from a bare patch in the field just east of the village.


At 1515 hours, Joan picked up the ringtail HEN HARRIER over the fields adjacent to the Icknield Way and by watching from the gate by Greys Farm, we followed it for several minutes as it quartered the farmland hunting for food. At one stage, it was mobbed by a couple of corvids. It was the first time I had seen this bird this year, despite trying on numerous occasions; a single Red Kite was also in the vicinity.


On the western outskirts of Royston bordering Therfield Heath, I counted 5 active nests in trees on the A505 roundabout at TL 333 403 and a further 17 in the trees bordering the road at TL 342 405. Closeby at Thrift Farm (TL 321 383), 38 more active nests were counted.


With the SE wind quite strong by early evening, I fully expected something new to be at the 'resses' but it wasn't to be. STARTOP'S best offerings were the RINGED PLOVER pair, 18 Linnets and the 2 continuing Meadow Pipits, one of which is in transitional plumage.

WILSTONE was relatively quiet with not a hirundine in sight but 2 OYSTERCATCHERS by the hide on the bund, 2 COMMON SNIPES feeding at the edge of the reedbed, the 10 COMMON GOLDENEYE still and a small number of wildfowl including 4 Gadwall, 42 Teal, just 7 Wigeon, 18 Shoveler and 4 Mute Swans. Active Sinensis nest have now increased to ten, with 3 Little Egrets present and the gull roost at a pitiful 212 Black-headeds. A pair of Stock Dove was feeding on the bund

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