Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Harrier Heaven

7th July 2013

Off to Lakenheath again, this time to try and photograph Marsh Harriers which should be feeding young by now. The best place for these is the Joist Fen viewpoint, but first a breakfast pit-stop at New Fen. During the winter months I had noticed a bird table tucked in beside the reeds, but it was empty, had no birds coming to it and therefore forgot all about it. But today was different as all eyes at the viewpoint were glued to it. For today there were up to five Bearded Tits coming to it on a regular basis.

But they were not coming for bird seed. In the nest the young birds are fed insects, but when they fledge they change their diet to seed. So on this tray was grit which helps them digest the seed. Interestingly, only young birds were seen at or around the bird table.

Further up the track at Joist Fen a male Reed Bunting was singing away from the top of a Phragmites head, presumably while his female was sitting on their second clutch of eggs.

But after a while he gave that up and did a spot of sunbathing on top of a post. Note the open bill so that he can pant like a dog, and the spread wings and tail to maximise the area.

But now on to the main feature of the day, the Marsh Harriers. For several weeks there had been a nest a hundred yards out from the viewpoint. The young had obviously hatched and appeared to have dispersed a short distance from the nest as the male kept going out for food, but was bringing it back to a slightly different place each time. It soon became apparent that his favourite hunting area was the other side of the river which he crossed both going out and coming back at almost the same point each time. So this was obviously the place to wait with camera in hand.

It worked and, although the bird never came quite as close as I would have liked, it did provide a number of opportunities.

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