Saturday, September 05, 2015

Afternoon car trip

A gap in the afternoon. Wryneck at Stevenage? too far, particularly as I don't know the site and they tend to go missing for hours at a time. Osprey at Panshanger Park? Nearer, but Ospreys spend most of their time sat in trees, so unless you know the tree ...

So into the van with the optics, and drive slowly through the village and up onto the high ground at Trim's Green. Two miles in all as the Osprey flies. My first stop is a lay-by next to a large field, and it is empty until I find a Peregrine sat on a large clod of earth. Zoom up, and its a fine adult, barred chest, yellow claws and saddle on the beak, black hood, yellow eyering, deep blue back. I spend about half an hour watching it, and it just sits watching. Its head goes round the full 180 as it surveys the field, fully aware I'm sure of the woodies in the distant corners. It looks straight up, and keeps looking up. I follow its gaze and see a Red Kite drifting over. The kite drifts over the top field and is lost to view. The Peregrine keeps sitting on its clod of earth.

I move on to the entrance to the farm. From here there is a clear view over toward Stansted airport and Hatfield Forest. a few gulls moving, then some panicky wood pigeons and the peregrine is flying through them. It isn't really trying and at one stage a pigeon chases it. It twists and turns, tucks its wings in for a mini-stoop, and then cruises round for a while and drifts off.

On to stop three opposite Mathams Wood. Nothing but crows, jackdaws and pigeons, and about 20 or so Swallows and House Martins, which may be local, feeding over the recently cut fields. Just getting back in the van when some discordant crows alert me to a Common Buzzard drifting just over the car and then over the field. I know these are common birds now, but close up and low these are still mightily impressive birds, full of power. This one has pale feather edges on its upper wing, so probably this year's bird.

Last stop, a gate at the west edge of the big field, from where the concrete ribbon perimeter of the old airfield winds across the field. Again, it is empty until I find a Peregrine, presumably the same one, sat in the field. A passing pigeon draws it out and it menaces the pigeon on its way, not really engaging. Even so it covers the field in no time, and gives a few more glimpses of its speed and power as it flies up and round back toward the field where I first found it.

One last traverse with the scope of the hedge in the middle where the earth mounds are. A very blotchy common buzzard is sat there. Then that's it for the day and off for some last-minute shopping for D#3's birthday tomorrow.

Its only September, but if this peregrine hangs around we could have some fun this winter.


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