Monday, 21 April 2014

A deluge of MARSH HARRIERS after the rains

Some pretty hefty thunderous rain showers during late afternoon clearly bought down a number of migrating MARSH HARRIERS.....
Steve Rodwell was the first to see one - a cream-crown bearing an orange wing-tag inscribed '59'. It arrived from the west and almost immediately disappeared down into the reedbed in the SW quarter. Quite a few birders were on site at the time including Dave Bilcock, Ian Williams and Ian Bennell and Ian was able to obtain some reasonable images of it. About half an hour later, a second cream-crown arrived, both of which were still present when I arrived on site at around 1730 hours. Both spent long periods out of view roosting in the reedbed, although the untagged individual made several long flights about the reedbed before returning. However, at 1830, this bird gradually towered up and flew strongly WNW, initially flighting to Drayton Beauchamp (Bucks) before steering towards a more NW direction and following the line of Black Poplars along before heading off towards the Aylesbury Vale. I kept on it for about 5 minutes before losing it to cloud.
Not that long after suddenly there were THREE cream-crown MARSH HARRIERS together over the reedbed in the SW corner, Ian and Roy sat in the hide watching two birds return from the west whilst I was concentrating on trying to read the wing-tag of the original bird - both of these birds (possibly the second bird returning after hitting rain) departing simultaneously to the east at 1850 hours. This time both seemed to disappear high in the clouds as they headed towards the Chiltern escarpment at Ivinghoe. Meanwhile, '59' remained on site, roosting in a Willow adjacent to the reedbed for at least 20 minutes. After flying around for a little time, it returned to the reedbed, where it presumably roosted.
Ian Williams wiped the floor with me in terms of photographing the birds, these to be uploaded later.
Roy Hargreaves and I also saw and heard a WHIMBREL fly quickly through at 1905, also disappearing out SSE, while other species noted included the drake MANDARIN DUCK, 60 Barn Swallow, 35 Sand Martin, a CETTI'S WARBLER right of the hide, Common Kingfisher, the Oystercatcher pair, Common Snipe, both Song Thrush and WILLOW WARBLER singing in the East Bank Wood, 5 Mute Swans, Green Woodpecker and 2 Common Tern.
Earlier, SR and DB had noted both Common Shelduck and Common Sandpiper
STARTOP'S END held 52 Common Terns at dusk (and the two Common Redshank) with the highly mobile COMMON CUCKOO showing well on MARSWORTH where WESTERN REED WARBLERS had now increased to at least 9, SEDGE WARBLERS to 3 and the 3 CETTI'S.

David Bilcock had earlier extensively covered the IVINGHOE HILLS noting a striking fall of NORTHERN WHEATEAR perhaps 35 in number (including at least 10 GREENLANDERS) while Ted Wallen recorded a nice male COMMON REDSTART in Inkombe Hole and the first singing male GARDEN WARBLER of the year in Top Scrub.

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