Monday, 3 November 2014

A ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD near Braughing (East Herts)

Mike Ilett came across a large, pale buzzard whilst searching for a purported ringtail Hen Harrier at Hay Street early yesterday afternoon, his image posted to me over the internet quickly confirming the bird as a juvenile ROUGH-LEGGED - one of over 35 recorded in Britain over the past month (a widespread influx following an excellent breeding season after a glut of Voles in the Arctic tundra & forests). The bird was showing well and over the next few hours, Mike was able to direct 15 or so local observers on to his find (both he and Jason Ward obtaining some first-rate images over the course of the afternoon).
Otherwise engaged with an adult Franklin's Gull, my first opportunity of visiting was today - fortunately the bird being still present. As yesterday, it was patrolling the edges of Hay Lane Barn Plantation at TL 385 257, where both a recently mown hay field and rough pasture were offering ideal opportunities for the hunting of small rodents. Despite the weather, the bird was showing very well, usually perching on the outer edge of the plantation or on the recently cut hedgerow along the southern perimeter. Like virtually all of the birds involved in the current irruption, it was a juvenile, typified by its white primary bases, diffuse undertail bar, streaked breast, buff underwing coverts and contrastingly white head. When hunting for food, it would fly out from the wood and hover for several minutes over the field, before pouncing down on to the ground. By the looks of it, it could remain in the area for several weeks. Adam who lives at Hay Lane Barn was very interested in the bird and very kindly allowed those of us present an opportunity to explore the area, a tiny herd of 4 FALLOW DEER (including a stag) being my first ever record of this mammal in TL 38 25. The area also produced 8+ Yellowhammer, a couple of TREE SPARROW, 6 Redwings, Red Kite and 2 Common Buzzards.

There is only sufficient room for 7 cars to park safely in Hay Lane so parking could prove problematical if large numbers of birdwatchers congregate (the road is surprisingly busy and used by HGV's taking a short cut). The lane itself is accessed off of the A10 just under a mile north after the Braughing roundabout - towards the northern end of the dual carriageway section.

My images from today -:

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