Monday, 31 March 2014

Right ID? Roughly...

What an unexpectedly beautiful day. The late march sunshine has real warmth to it despite the blustery breeze. It's a spring clean for the tired mind. I always enjoy an hour or two at Kingfisher bridge, often just for the solitude and stillness. I don't go there hoping for anything very exotic; it's just a nice place to be. Today starts dramatically though. I arrive in the car park just as a big buzzard is gettting the high hat from a pair of rooks. Fairly standard stuff, but always quite an interesting bit of behaviour to observe. Then a pair of kestrels arrive and join in. I don't often see kestrels in pairs, and I've never seen them get together with corvids to hassle a buzzard. They are plucky too; one of them repeatedly dives and clouts the buzzard on the top of the head. He's made of stern stuff though, and refuses to capitulate. Good for him.

As I get a really good look at the buzzard wheeling round with a yeah, yeah shrug of the carpals, something about it doesn't quite sit right. There's something of the marsh harrier about it's slightly more fluent, relaxed flight. It isn't labouring quite like a buzzard, and it holds its wings in a distinct vee. The markings are very pale but the exaggerated carpal patches and dark belly are obvious. The tail and wings have just a touch more elegance about them.

Might I have chanced upon one of those handful of rough legged buzzards that visit the east of England every winter? There's the supple flight and the upheld wings. There are the carpal patches, but buzzard colouring's all over the place so it isn't always a guide. It's clearly not welcome in this spot of marsh harrier country, so maybe it is a visitor. I strain and strain for a good look at the tail, watching out for the dark bar at the end but I just don't get a good enough view to say for certain. Whether it is or it isn't, it's a lovely thing. It's going away now, over the line of still skeletal winter poplars, another one for the maybe list.