Monday, 1 August 2016

Marsh Harriers Playing on the Mud at Fowlmere

28th July 2016

Last time I went to Fowlmere there was just one juvenile Marsh Harrier flying but evidence to suggest that there were still more in the nest, so time for another visit to find out was is happening. As soon as I went in to the Drewer Hide I immediately saw one of the young flying, but it landed on the wrong side of a nearby bush. After a while I moved to the Reed Bed Hide, prepared to sit there for a couple of hours to see what was going on.

The adult male was quite active but was spending little time on site, going off to hunt so that he could bring in food for the youngsters. It soon became apparent that there were two youngsters which would fly around the site fairly frequently, but were relying on the adult to bring in food.

But the most unexpected behaviour was that both youngsters appeared to like sitting on the muddy margins of the mere. There was no evidence of them hunting for worms or dragonflies, and in fact they were clearly a little unsettled in their  new surroundings.

They were obviously comfortable sitting on solid perches, but on squidgy mud where clods of earth and stones moved when they tried to change position threw them off balance so there was much wing-flapping involved to keep them upright.

What a fantastic couple of hours, and as I was making my way back I glanced over to the tree where on my last visit I managed to get a close-up shot of a Turtle Dove. Much to my surprise the bird was there again, but sadly this time the light was not in the best direction and the bird was partially obscured. However, still better than I had achieved before my last visit.

I then walked back to my car and packed the camera away and headed off towards home. I turned into Mill Road and after a couple of hundred yards noticed a bird sitting on the wire, almost certainly a Corn Bunting. I pulled into a passing space and reversed up to get as far away from the bird as possible, but still only 30 yards away. I got out of the car, went round to the boot for the camera and managed to get these shots. How amazing, and what a superb end to a superb day.

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