Sunday, 17 April 2011

Marsh Harrier

Today I have to thank a friend for introducing us to a wonderful place - Woodwalton Fen. He had previously told us that it may be possible to see a marsh harrier at this reserve, a place he used to cycle to every weekend, as a boy, in the hope he might just see this bird. He never did.

We met early at the gate and took a stroll on this beautiful spring morning, along the peaty paths between the fenland vegetation. As we listented to the bird song, one bird made its presence known with probably the most familiar call of all, the cuckoo. Yes, I can now add that to my firsts list for the 17th April.

We settled ourselves down in the hide with a couple of knowledgeable birders and listened to the calls of the chiff-chaff; sedge warbler; grasshopper warbler; pheasant and... a peacock!? Then, over on the far side of the reserve, we saw it. Skimming above the top of the sedge before lowering his legs like an undercarriage and dropping down to the ground. A male marsh harrier. With bird and birdwatchers alike catching their breath, a second bird appeared and we watched as this female and the male bird twisted and turned together in the air. Feeling justifiably content with this spectacle, we were further rewarded when a second pair put in an appearance, the only thing detracting being the distance from our lenses of this avian stage. Needless to say, I will be returning very soon for a repeat performance, hopefully this time with it taking place on the front of stage.

Oh, and my friends parting comment. "I have waited over thirty-five years to see this"

Fortunate indeed.

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