Sunday, 30 November 2014

Looking for Raptors!

Isle of Sheppey can be quite good for Raptors, especially in the winter months, getting close enough for a photographic opportunity is another matter.

There have been reports of a Hen Harrier, including the impressive male which is always nice to see, around the Capel fleet and Shellness areas.

Marsh Harriers are quite common here, Buzzard numbers seemed to have built up over the last few years, and occasionally the Rough Legged Buzzard has wintered on these marshes,
 although no reports from here at the moment.

Peregrine, Merlin and Kestrel can all be seen.

 Short Eared Owl can be seen quartering the marshes usually late in the afternoon, and theres always a chance of Barn Owl, Little Owl and Long Eared Owl around Elmley.

So in an optimistic mood, I set off down the track heading for the Spithead hide where I hoped to view the surrounding marshes around Windmill creek.

My first encounter was with a fine Peregrine falcon which decided to make a sortie over a flock of Brent Geese causing mayhem and panic, one poor bird was picked out for a half hearted chase, luckily the Peregrine appeared only to be toying with them, and disappeared over the fields.

I spent a few hours in the hide scanning the marshes hoping to see the Hen Harriers, but no luck here, plenty of Marsh Harriers which are always nice to watch as they systematically search for a meal over the marshes,

This was the only one that came close enough for a photo attempt.

The walk back to Kingshill farm did not produce any other raptor sightings, including Owls.
So it was off to Capel Fleet to try there.

Still plenty of Kestrels along the road through Capel Fleet.

There were a few Buzzards seen in the distance, 
but nothing came close.
Finally caught a fleeting glimpse of Hen Harrier or Ringtail as they are known, just past the Raptor viewpoint.
 I decided to wait around to see if it would return, and as luck would have it, there it was, but it never came close enough for a good photo, just some dodgy record shots.

This cropped photograph above shows how worn the tail feathers were, strangely had no effect on its maneuverability as it hunted over the fields.
No sign of the male Hen Harrier this time, hopefully catch up with it before the end of winter.
the photograph below was the last time I saw one, a fleeting rear view.

So with the light fading fast, one final look along the road at Capel fleet finally revealed the
 Short Eared Owl that I was hoping to see.

Something special about Owls, always nice to see.

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