Thursday, 15 December 2011

Thursday equals Nature Reserve Day!

For some reason I was on light duties today, which meant just walking around the public paths, clipping back brambles and dog roses where they were hanging over the paths and liable to ensnare people as they walk by.  When I first arrived, I thought this was going to be miserable, as I was convinced it was going to bucket down most of the morning, but in fact, my fears were groundless.  Although chilly, the morning brightened, and much of the time was clear and sunny.

Passing the watercress hut (this was a centre for growing watercress in the 19th century) I spotted a treecreeper, a tiny bird I've rarely seen before.  This one was being most obliging, and having had a good look at it, I decided to check out the differences between the ordinary treecreeper and the short-toed.  Looking back up, lo and behold, the bird was still around, albeit on a different tree.  I was able to creep closer and confirm that it was an ordinary treecreeper, not short-toed.  I probably watched it for about 5 minutes, which is pretty good.

From there I went to Reedbed Hide to take five, eat a sandwich and warm up a bit.  Of course, while there, I was watching birds, though there didn't seem to be much about, just a few mallard, teal,a heron, some corvids and a moorhen.  Just as I was thinking of packing up, however, a raptor appeared from nowhere and attacked the teal!

The teal flattened themselves onto the water and the hawk missed, but it swooped up to a height of about 5 or 10 metres, turned on the tip of its wing and shot straight back down again, repeating this manoeuvre three or four times before giving up and flying away west.

It was quite a big, chunky bird, with pointy wings, dark brown on the top, and characteristic hawk moustaches, and I decided to be hopeful that it was a peregrine.  Teal might be our smallest duck, but they're still far too big for most of the other raptors it might have been.  No way it was a hobby, which eats dragonflies and small birds, it was too big and the wings were the wrong shape to be a sparrowhawk, and in any case, I thing the teal would be much too big even for a female sparrowhawk.  And it certainly wasn't a buzzard (of which there was one about) or any kind of harrier, again, because the wings were wrong.

So I was quietly confident it was a peregrine, though not confident enough to put it on the sightings sheet.  I had, however, managed to get two very far-away, blurry photo's of it.

I sent Doug an excited text, but of course, he didn't immediately appear, as the bird had disappeared to the west.

When I met up with him, however, my description of the bird and the way it attacked the teal, along with the photo's, convinced him that it really was a juvenile peregrine.

I'm so chuffed, I'm like a little kid who's had a pat on the head from his favourite teacher!

1 comment:

Jennyta said...

It's a real boost when you see something unexpected or unusual.