Thursday, June 16, 2011

Late hunting by Hen Harrier. 15.6.2011

Other than a single male Whinchat locally the day produced little that was of much significance despite a few hours involved in fieldwork. The weather was kind and will doubtless help those broods of youngsters coming through.

The most interesting observation arose at the very end of the day! As I said a few days ago, it gets light very early in the morning here at this time of year, pre 0400 hours, and, correspondingly is light in the late evening as well. Last evening was no exception, despite it being rather cloudy. Preparing for bed around 2200 hours, I looked out of the bedroom window and was a little surprised to see the "local" male Hen Harrier hunting out over the open grass moor opposite the house. He is a very distinctive pale, ghost of a bird and always catches attention.

Two or three things sprang to mind as I'd seen the bird hunting early on in the day and then, again, in the early evening. Contrary to the conclusion I'd come to previously, it seems likely the pair have bred successfully and are now beginning to feed young, which is good news. The other thought was "What on earth could the bird actually catch at that time"? Despite it still being light enough to see outside the level of general bird activity reduces quite significantly. Species like Meadow Pipit and Skylark have "given up" by then so , one imagines, effort was being put into surprising them out of roost, when they'd probably be slower off the mark too. And of course, I suppose there's always the possibility of coming across some young Pheasant or Snipe. Strangely enough it's almost as if an invisible boundary exists eastwards, perpendicular to the house, creating a line which the bird never crosses as , immediately beyond this "border", and on slightly higher ground, pairs of Lapwing and Curlew breed. At this time of year any incursion onto "Curlew ground" results in the most horrendous fuss and draws attention to the offender, usually Hooded Crows!! I guess the bird gets full marks for effort!

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