Wednesday, 21 March 2012

We all have our favourite places. One of mine is only a few miles away from home and offers a variety of different species at different times throughout the year. The winter brings large flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing, as well as mixed flocks of finches; spring brings Lapwings, Golden Plover, and Meadow Pipits; summer see the arrival of more migrants, including Redstart and Pied Flycatcher; while autumn see overflying geese and the arrival of winter visitors. Throughout there are always predators, and earlier this week I came across a great selection of raptors – some expected, a couple of surprises, and one definitely unwanted visitor!

The expected sightings were of Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, and Peregrine – the latter newly returned from their coastal / lowland winter quarters.



Peregrine Falcon
The Peregrine were especially entertaining, with a male and female re-establishing both their territory and relationship. Indeed, their site was briefly visited by a second male before he was quickly seen off by the incumbent. Once driven off our male reinforced his position with unbridled views of peregrine sex – much to the noisy complaints of his partner! Let’s hope they are successful again.

The new sightings included singleton Red Kite and Hen Harrier. With so much of this part of the Wolds given over to rough pasture and cover for game birds, both species appeared to be in their element as they quartered fields in their search for a meal. Both birds were seen a number of times through the week, but I am expecting the Harrier to move north in the coming weeks as spring really arrives.

Hen Harrier

Red Kite
The unwanted visitors are linked to the Olympics. The area is being used by the RAF to practice how to deal with flying terrorist bombs (in the form of a light aircraft). The tactics appear to be initial challenges from chasing Lynx helicopters, and if this is not enough, then the escorting Typhoon jets can shoot it down. However, the Typhoons need to fly almost at a stall in order to fly slow enough, meaning that the noise has been quite incredible and would be enough to drive any sane person nuts. Hopefully, they will have practiced enough soon and will leave us in peace again.

Man-made raptor

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