Friday, 21 December 2012

Raptor Rapture

Another beautiful cold and sunny day with frost still hanging on the trees despite it being past mid-day. The ditches and pools in front of the Amwell viewpoint were all frozen so no birds present apart from a couple of Moorhens feeding on the seed in the ride. Then suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I sensed a movement over the reed bed in front of the James Hide. A Sparrowhawk was flying over the reed bed and was coming my way. It was flying fast but despite having gloves on I did manage to get a couple of shots as it went past. Clearly a small male. How amazing was that?

Buoyed up by this piece of luck I walked up to the James Hide to see if the Bittern was showing. I sat down and gently raised the flap. There was nothing on show in front of the hide but I could make out a large bird of prey over the Old River Lea and coming my way. Although it was head-on, the lazy nature of the flight suggested it wasn't a Buzzard so I assumed it was a Red Kite. I lifted the camera and it was only when the camera auto-focused that I could see it had a golden crown and was therefore a Marsh Harrier.

The harrier, an adult female flew around the reed bed for 5 minutes before eventually heading off south towards Rye Meads. This was the first Sparrowhawk that I have ever photographed and the first Marsh Harrier in Hertfordshire, and both in the space of half an hour.

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