Aylmerton Nature Diary

Saturday 27th August – raptor-fest

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It was barely light this morning as I sat at my computer writing a short piece for the NENBC Newsletter, when I heard the unmistakable ‘mewing’ of a Buzzard close by. Buzzards don’t normally get out of bed until ten so, when I’d finished my work, I went to investigate. I eventually found it, sitting in a tree in my neighbours field. It was being harassed by Magpies but, other than that, I couldn’t quite see what all the commotion was about. I continued along Red Barn Lane and into the park, noting a pair of Bullfinch near Sexton’s Lodge. For the first time in weeks, I saw the Barn Owl hunting over the water meadow – always nice to see. There was a Reed Warbler in the reed-bed, with another by Boat-house Bay and a Whitethroat near-by. Little Owl was calling from the oaks on the eastern edge of the lake and a Grey Wagtail flew north calling – it dropped down on to the top pond. The Kingfisher didn’t let me down either, calling and flying around the lake, as is it’s habit at the moment. The usual Mallard flock was made more interesting by the presence of a sub-adult male Tufted and an eclipse drake Gadwall. A female Mandarin was roosting up amongst the tangled tree roots.

Common Buzzard, first seen at dawn from Red Barn lane

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As I reached the gate at the junction with the Weaver’s Way I heard another Buzzard, this one was sitting on one of the gate posts at the bottom of the rough grazing field. A few minutes later I became aware of a large raptor flying from the direction of Metton Carr, over the sheep pasture in front of the Hall. I assumed it was the Buzzard but as I watched it I notice a second bird with it and they were different – young Marsh Harriers. They made their way north towards the Great Wood and were quickly joined by a third individual! Marsh Harrier are an occasional migrant over the park – to see three together was pretty special. No sooner had I got my breath back when I noticed another raptor sitting up in the dead branches of a near-by oak, expecting to see either Buzzard or possibly another Marsh Harrier, it turned out to be a Red Kite. Quite a raptor-fest!

One of three Marsh Harrier, as they headed north over the sheep pastures

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Red Kite in trees near the rough grazing meadow, south of the dam

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