Saturday, 20 December 2014
It's a kind of magic
The Wicken harrier roost is a real treat. It can be easy to forget that every evening during the winter these fantastic raptors congregate over the reedy fen stretching away from the visitor centre towards Upware and the fens beyond. The past few years have seen Marsh Harriers ruling the roost and Hen Harriers regular but scarcer with 4-6 birds being a good show. The past two evenings I've managed to leave work earlier and position myself in a chilly vigil through the gloaming. Yesterday was very windy, conditions that tend to keep the Harriers airborne and this proved to be the case 3 stunning grey males followed each patrolling the phragmites. A further four ringtails were up and down creating a spectacle to savour. I needed little encouragement to return in brighter skies this evening. I saw 2 males and 3 ringtails, some of which were frequenting the closest stretches of fen and I was able to drink in the birds as they cruised and twisted against the golden sunset. There's something of the Nightjar about their flight which I think I can pick out in the dodgy video below, or is it simply a trick of the fading light. I can't recommend heartily enough finding the time to visit Wicken to experience this roost, I've said before there is magic woven through the place.
For mouth-watering footage of a beautiful male Montagu's Harrier at Wicken a couple of years ago check this You Tube clip out.
I'm also very fond of the birding interaction with Will's valiant attempts to diplomatically assert the identity of this sublime bird which falls on deaf ears until a dramatic U-turn where the less observant observer blames the video quality for the clumsy identification. A lovely snippet of birding culture rarely captured. I'm sure we've all been there, in my case, at least, in both sets of shoes.