The patch walk this morning was called off after 2 hours. The driving drizzly rain, and cool temperature had all but the most hardy of birds take to deep cover. To add to this there was a road crew in the College Grounds using a pneumatic drill ! The only bird of any note was a female SPARROWHAWK that broke cover from the boundary hedgerow, between Migrant Alley and the Greenhouse Comlpex Grounds, right where I wouldn't want one!
I got home and checked the weather forecast, which said that by midday, 'sunny spells' would develop for our area. So around noon I set off for a couple of hours of skywatching over at Migrant Alley. I passed the female Sparrowhawk again, she has found this boundary hedgerow good for birds, just as I have !
Still waiting for the 'sunny spells' I decided on a quick walk round the paddocks, and it wasn't long before I had found another WHINCHAT, possibly one of yesterdays, this is the fourth day in a row I have recorded at least one Whinchat on the paddock fences, I'm being spoilt rotten :-) I reached my skywatching seat just as the rain finally stopped, and within a few minutes the heavy lead grey sky turned to just light grey - thats as good as it got, Sunny spells my ar*e!
The next two hours proved very rewarding, first birds noticed were the HERRING GULLS, small flocks moved NW, inolving around 23 birds of mixed ages. The local SWALLOWS had finally come out to feed and were zipping inches above the sheep pasture, five HOUSE MARTINS came from the south east to join them, and a lone SAND MARTIN had tagged along with them, always a good species to find on my patch. The KESTREL was soon on the scene, hunting over the Tree Nursery, then onto the Greenhouse Grounds, where a flock of 15 LINNET, and 8 GOLDFINCH scattered into the Tall Hedge.
A large flock of Corvids were seen to the south east of my patch, and scanning through them I saw a large Raptor being harrassed by them. The raptor broke away and headed my way, I kept watching it until it finally became evident what it was - a MARSH HARRIER (100 77) ! WOW!! What a magnificent bird to have on my patch, and to reach the 100th species for the year with it is quite uncanny, for it was in 2008 that the Marsh harrier brought up the 100 in that year! Only 3 records of Marsh Harrier have occurred on my patch, one in 2008, one in 2009 and todays one.
A few more birds of lesser note were seen during the remainder of the visit, a TURTLE DOVE flew over, headed NW, two GREY HERONS also flew in that direction, and a pair of HOBBIES toyed with a ROOK directly overhead. The sunny spells never did appear, but I had forgotten about the poor weather after seeing that Harrier :-)
As well as the 100th species being reached for the year, the harrier brings the August total up to 77 species, 7 better than the previous best August total set last year, I put this down to the increased visits ive been able to put this month.
These photo's are the best I could get of the Marsh Harrier, but I had better views through my bins :-)