Friday, 9 September 2016

Dirty Harrier

Mediterranean gull
I had an interesting couple of hours rooting around on the patch this morning.
I started at Freeman's Pools where a 'new-in' juvenile great crested grebe was snoozing on the water. The female tufted duck was still present along with its youngster - a drake was nearby too.
A small gathering of 50 or so black-headed gulls in Frog Pond field also had a 1st winter Mediterranean gull among them.
Water levels on all the pools remains high and as a result we're seeing very few fresh-water waders in the Aldcliffe area so far this season.
The Flood hosted just a handful of lapwing, redshank and a lone snipe.
Out on the marsh, near Snipe Bog, a single greenshank was feeding in the brackish pools.
Meanwhile, a scan through the many lapwing on the estuary only turned up a pair of golden plover - the first I've seen there this autumn.
Two adult Mediterranean gulls were with the several hundred black-heads and handful of common gulls on the sand.

Marsh harrier
On Heaton Marsh I could see a common buzzard hunting low over the marsh and as I 'scoped it I noticed another raptor sat deep in the grass - a female / juvenile type marsh harrier. After a short while the harrier got up and spent a short while hunting over the marsh before dropping down and feeding on the carcass of a lesser black-backed gull on the river's edge.
It soon took off again but this time attracted the attention of one of the local peregrines which half-heartedly gave it a bit of bother before the harrier drifted off and returned to its manky gull meal.

Migrant songbirds seemed pretty thin on the ground, with the local tit flocks hosting fewer chiffchaffs & willow warblers than juts a couple of days ago. A single lesser whitethroat was near the parking area.


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