Friday, 5 May 2017

A mesmerising Pallid Harrier in Lancashire 29th April 2017

We were promised a change in the weather for the weekend and big things were predicted. We were hoping for some clear cut decisions / bird on the Friday but nothing really happened. I made a few suggestions to CJW. And he made a decision.

CJW arranged to pick me up at 430am and told me we were going birding and we would see a few year ticks. The destination was only known to himself and The Stalker. I consulted my lawyers. We agreed to go with the decision.

As arranged, CJW picked me up at 430am. I immediately looked at his satnav. Arrival at 730am. That meant a journey of three hours so I was able to discount a few places already. As we drove down the D road, he said he had an issue with today's trip. An issue with the trip he had planned! I smirked. We picked up The Stalker and the discussion began. The issue lay with a photo of the adult male PALLID HARRIER at Dunsop Bridge and they had been both blown away by the bird. I had already suggested this as a possible trip, as I knew what the bird looked like. The satnav was changed to Lancashire.

The journey was relatively straightforward and we arrived in Dunsop Bridge at 06:30hrs. We had a pleasant stroll up the valley, and we then sprinted up the last slope to the small viewing area where three blokes were already standing.

For the next two hours, we were mesmerised by the adult male Pallid Harrier as it flew by over the hillside or as it climbed high overhead, calling away, with its silhouette looking more like a large falcon or tern. It was a truly unforgettable sight, and it was hard to drag yourself away from. No one spoke as it flew by. I've never witnessed a bird before that totally captured everyones attention like this before.

Three photo's by Lord Lichfield

And two from me

With news reaching us of a SAVI'S WARBLER singing on Spurn, we decided to head over that way, with the possibility of the female MONTAGU'S HARRIER at Blacktoft as well. It was quite a long journey, and we knew when we arrived that the SAVI'S had not been heard singing for nearly three hours, and the MONTY'S had been seen once at 1030. We hung around the Canal zone area, but it was quite windy by now. We did a bit of sea watching, and we walked the triangle before heading off to the Kilnsea Wetlands and Beacon Pools. It was quiet; we only saw a few bits and bobs and we felt the day may have peaked. In the back of our minds though, we thought there was a slim chance the SAVI'S would sing again in the evening and so there was a reluctance to head off.

In the end we headed back to the car to set off for home. Just a bit further up the road, two cars were parked up and they were looking across a field. Then another car turrned up. Another car paused, spoke to them and headed our way. Using all my two years twitching experience, I sensed they were watching something. I kindly volunteered to walk up the road to see, while the other two waited. Half way up the road, another birder had joined The Stalker and CJW and they were all marching furiously up towards me, grinning and putting their thumbs, punching the air. One of them was even shaking a bottle of champagne and de-corking it. I knew then they were watching a bird.

I arrived, and one of the regulars kindly put me onto a female DOTTEREL that was feeding at the back of the field. It was a nice way to end the day, and at least we'd seen something on Spurn.