Thursday, 12 May 2016

Skywatch harrier

With neighbouring Sussex enjoying a modest invasion of Red-rumped Swallows, it seemed prudent to position myself and watch the sky. After spending an hour or two on the beach, then the moat, my bottle went and I headed onto the RSPB reserve, the most likely place for these hirundines to put in a performance if they were to pay us a visit.

From the visitor centre it was blindingly obvious that there were few hirundines on show. A snap decision was made to take root on the viewing ramp that overlooks Dengemarsh, and within five minutes this had paid off - but not with a hoped for Red-rump...

A ring-tailed Harrier appeared briefly over some close bushes, then went behind them and, through snatched views, appeared to be heading towards Boulderwall. I knew Steve Broyd was nearby, so alerted him before resuming my search. The bird soon returned and proceeded to give superb views, allowing the identification to be clinched as a Montagu's. The bird spiralled high and drifted west, entering 'Plodland' air space... Mr Casemore was duly alerted! The harrier then lost height and started to drift over the fields at a lower elevation, then regained height before lowering once more. A growing crowd, including Steve, Dave Eland, the reserve staff and Martin (who was over on the Dengemarsh Road), were able to watch it for maybe 15 minutes. It decided to head off west, passing within 30 feet over Martin's head. We thought that that was that, but Mark Hollingworth relocated it 45 minutes later, south of its last known position.

Only my second Dungeness Montagu's, both ring-tails. Without being greedy, I'd like my next to be a male. Please.

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