The Rough Legged Buzzard sailed across the road in the morning gloom showing off all its spiffing plumage features even before the car had come to a halt beneath the looming mass of Hatfield Colliery’s tip in South Yorks this morning.
Everyone needs a break from the satsumas and dead pine trees at this time of year, so I’d slipped away from the Outlaws on the east coast and motored north to have a look at the young Rough Leg because, well they’re such great birds.
This one was no exception, riding the wind above the colliery tip as if it was hunting over an arctic ridge, hovering frequently with such ease the local Kestrels looked jealous.
The buzzard often came pretty close. Rabbits were nervous.
It was a shame conditions were too dark to get any decent pictures, but it was hugely enjoyable to watch the bird on and off for a few hours as it drifted by, circled high over nearby birch scrub or perched up in the murky treetops.
Marsh Harrier, Whoopers, Common Buzzards, Sprawks, thrushes and Stock Doves passed the chilly summit of the tip too _ I bet the massif that dominates the landscape above Stainforth is good for vismig at the right time of year.
You can see my wobbly windy videos of the buzzard on You Tube here and here and almost make out plumage detail on the long-winged beauty…
I was tempted by a foray into the nearby Hatfield Moors for an unreliable Great Grey Shrike, but given this vast peatland is marked by big “there be dragons here” signs and even hardened Yorkshire birders can only explain directions around the place in the most arcane way, I decided to give it a miss.
The site is reportedly larger than South America, with no discernable features and it is still represented by a big white space on most maps.
An as yet undiscovered indigenous people is rumoured to forage there, and when we visited to try for an “easy” Red Footed Falcon a year or so back we were lost in the interior for a month, with no supplies and certainly no Red Foots.
We narrowly escaped with our lives.
Heading back to the relatives for the afternoon I detoured to Far Ings, to check the reedbeds, hawthorn and lagoons in the shadow of the Humber Bridge.
The light had improved slightly and Marsh Harriers tilted over the reeds where noisy Cetti’s Warblers skulked and Water Rails squealed.
Goldeneyes were out on the water and after 20 minutes or so in the Ness End hide, a fine Bittern wandered out of cover to fish beneath me.
It was fascinating to watch as the bird held its bill under the water, presumably sensing vibrations before striking for prey.
I blatted some more ropey video, which you can see on You Tube here, here and here.
I know it’s not around for very long, but can anyone identify the fish it scoffs in the first clip?
Stay festive everyone….