Sunday, 28 December 2014

A Raptor Fest!

Spent most of today at RSPB Wallasea Wetlands, it was a lovely sunny day with a cool northerly breeze. Most of the raptor action took place late afternoon as the sun began to set. I say most of the action, but probably the best action was around 1pm. I had tracked a distant bird of prey as it hunted over the far south seawall for quite sometime through my scope. I was pretty sure it was the Rough-legged Buzzard, it was moving west, resting for periods either sat out of view or distantly on the far seawall. Eventually it moved inland over the island and hunted for a short while over the winter cover crop, where it showed well hovering and hunting before disappearing and not seen again. A distant Merlin chased a small passerine for about ten minutes before admitting defeat. There were also at least three Kestrels hunting across the island as well as two Marsh Harriers and a ringtail Hen Harrier.

As the sun began to set, you can just make out a Short-eared Owl top right in the image below, not one but at least six short-ears were seen hunting. They were never close enough for any decent images, the two below are my best! The day finished with the rintail Hen Harrier reappearing and showing well as the light disappeared.
Setting sun, Short-eared Owl top right
Short-eared Owl taken from the seawall near the car park




Hen Harrier taken from the car park























What was amazing though was the number of people that were present for sunset. Normally I'd see the odd birdwatcher and a couple of dog walkers. But, today the car park was full and there was a line of people along the seawall, odd groups in the car park and more positioned along the road. It was great to see the reserve being used :-)