Sunday, 25 November 2012

Hen Harriers in Kent

Having met Brian at 6.30am we decide to head for Reculver in Kent. With high winds and strong gusts during the night and into the early morning we find the QE II bridge is closed. We take the tunnel and at 6.30am on a Sunday morning there's no delays and we soon knock off the 70 odd miles to reach the pay & display car park below Reculver Towers.

Heading up the slope and past the Towers and Fort we head off towards Coldharbour Lagoon. Birds seen included Turnstones, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Shelduck, Redshank, Curlew, along with large numbers of Brent Geese. Among the commoner species seen are Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtail.
The walk out was cold and very windy, but it was nothing compared to the trudge back towards the car. Having turned round the wind was now directly into our faces and the wind chill effect was very evident.
Reaching the path before the Towers I spot a female Kestrel on the top window ledge. It seems quite content up there and was obviously happy to be shielded from the wind.

We leave Reculver and head for what is our main target of the day. We arrive at Capel Fleet watchpoint at around 11am,  and shortly afterwards pick up the first Marsh harrier. It's quartering the fields below the lime mounds.
While scanning the adjacent fields what looks like a very good candidate for R L Buzzard is found, but we leave not completely convinced, with a pale Common Buzzard not being ruled out.

While waiting for the target bird to hopefully show we have great views of eight Marsh harriers, mainly females but a cracking male bird is seen quartering the fields nearest to us but it's still just out of range for a photo opportunity. 
Along with Marsh Harriers there's also Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel all seen.
Then a target bird appears in the form of a ringtail Hen Harrier. It's a little distant at first as it makes it's way along the hedge line. But it soon drifts closer and gives great views as it turns into the sun.
A second bird is found and it too gives great scope views as it twists and turns in the wind. 

A great couple of hours spent here, Shame we couldn't nail down the id on the possible Rough-Legged or pick up a male Hen harrier.

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