Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Raptor day

Took up an invite by Dave M to go over to the Wykeham raptor spot and have a look for crossbills and, well, yes, raptors.

Rather a good do all around. Good company, plenty of birds, a bit of id challenge and good weather (note to deities, if in existence, a bit more breeze is required next time I go raptoring, please).

Down in the village, before Dave arrived, the postman seemed to know his birding stuff as he watched me scope a rather distant Honey Buzzard and chatted about local birds, suggesting that the raptor viewpoint might be a better spot than the village hall car park.

Up on the ridge first of all were quite a few Crossbills calling, then there was a Common Buzzard followed swiftly by one and then probably a second Honey Buzzard but I was too busy concentrating on the first one. A female Goshawk showed well, soared up and then demonstrated a classic, vertical, death defying stoop into the trees (bye, bye Woodpigeon, methinks). A Kestrel showed, more Common Buzzard, Crossbills and Bullfinches. A distant male Goshawk was a bit of an id challenge and whilst I was looking at that one a close juvenile shot by - click here. A Sparrowhawk, more Crossbills and a distant buzzard sp closed the proceedings. Well, it went something like that anyway.

No opportunity to record Crossbills, they all sounded pretty standard in any case, but for one making a bit of a deeper "chup" but it was a way away and they vary a fair bit. The one close lot were in flight.

High Brow viewpoint - good for crossbills

There is a reason I don't usually travel too much for birding, life and limb are valued. Today's roll of shame included a silver VW Touran driving 2 inches from my rear bumper up a country lane where passing, let alone overtaking was fraught with danger. 40 mph seemed to me a reasonable and safe speed. Once I got to a safe spot I let the ill-mannered, nit bearded, male maniac by, who then went on to hassle the next vehicle and overtake (Oh chironomid brain, one wheel off at that speed = upside down, mis-shaped Touran and mangled occupants.). On the way home it was the usual "I don't care if you are driving towards me I'm going to overtake anyway" type lunatic in a green Ford Focus estate; blonde, female, seeker of death I can inform you with some certainty, continue driving in that manner and The Reaper will be your next confidente.

Back home the male Sparrowhawk went for an eye level raid straight at us as we were eating tea outside, the speed and agility never fail to impress. (Yes, house points were gained by having cooked tea by the time family arrived home from horse related activity.) I'm now considering completing the day with some Nightjar and owl related excursion, but that might be pushing my luck.

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