Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Harrier v Coot

Lade - cold, sunny, w 5 - A nippy, more-like-winter sort of a morning kept us on the move between patches of scrub used as wind breaks. A Great White Egret seems to have taken up residence on south lake with another on the northern lake, but the main point of interest was the ongoing game of cat and mouse between harrier and wildfowl.
This morning three female Marsh Harriers were sat in willows eyeing up a nervous pack of Teal and Coot in mid-water, but what with the blustery wind and choppy surface I wasn't expecting a hunt to commence. However, a harrier suddenly struck out over the lake, immediately scattering the Teal skywards while the Coots pattered away as one tight unit. The hunter was undeterred and she picked out an individual bird, dropping vertically onto the unfortunate rail which then promptly dived. What followed next was a cartoon-like caper across the water as the Coot swam/pattered/fluttered with the raptor, half submerged at times, attached and hanging on grimly.
The contact was doomed to failure, as the Coot was in good nick, and after 30 seconds or so the harrier let go and eventually lifted clear of the water, shaking her plumage in flight like an Osprey.
Who needs the Serengeti when the trials of life are on your doorstep.
RSPB - A Peregrine spooking the assembled masses on the fields at Boulderwall continued `The Hunt` theme, along with several more Marsh Harriers and a Kestrel, plus all the usual egrets. On Burrowes 2 Smew were on the lake amongst the wildfowl and the Long-eared Owl was showing like a good `un from its usual perch.

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