Sunday 5 November 2023

Feeling Rough

I was beginning to feel a bit rough towards the end of the week, but rather than sit under a blanket feeling sorry for myself this weekend, I headed out to Stone Creek, just east of Hull, to do some birding and get some fresh air. A series of large set-aside fields lies next to the north bank of the Humber and this is attracting large numbers of finches and small mammals, to feed on the thistle and other ruderal plant seeds. This abundance of food has attracted a range of raptors including a juvenile Rough-legged Buzzard, which has lingered here for a couple of weeks now. 

The Rough-leg was present on arrival, sitting atop a large Hawthorn. A typical frosted-cream bird with large dark belly patch, and small beak. 

After 20 minutes or so, it took off, and flew steadily up river towards Paull. I lost it in to the distance, so switched my attention to two fantastic ringtail Hen Harriers quartering the fields, often coming really close. Further up the fields towards the Humber, three Short-eared Owls were cavorting around, seemingly enjoying the breeze and oblivious to the toggers snapping away with their mammoth lenses. A huge flock of Golden Plovers swirled over the Humber, with smaller flocks of Knot, Bar-tailed Godwits and Curlews mixed in. No doubt a hunting Peregrine was disturbing them, but I didn't see it. After a while, I picked up the Rough-leg flying back towards the fields and obligingly, it landed on a Hawthorn for a while, though at the back of the fields. 

Shortly, the buzzard took off and began hunting, hovering into the wind, sometimes hanging into the strengthening breeze motionless, whilst at other times putting quite a lot of effort in, to maintain position. From the rear, the large white primary patches on the upperside of the wings, and the white-tail base were very eye-catching. 

Every so often, it would drop vertically, hover again, before dropping like an over-sized Kestrel on to a hapless vole or mouse. It was great to watch and gradually came really close. Unfortunately I didn't have my DSLR with me nor the phonescoping adaptor, so the footage is a bit ropey! The rain arrived on cue late morning and having grilled this cracking bird for a good hour or so, I decided to head back west.

At North Duffield Carrs, two Great Egrets were hunting voles on the rapidly submerging river bank, a ringtail Hen Harrier was flying about with several Marsh Harriers. A decent Aythya flock on Bubwith Ings held 30+ Pochards and over 50 Tufted Ducks. Hopefully this flock will increase and pull in something interesting.

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