Friday, 1 April 2011

Harrier Harassment

I ended the Marsh Harrier post on the 28th March with the words ‘I really can’t get enough of these birds!’ This is true as I am sitting here at my PC blogging yet again about Marsh Harrier. This time in a much more positive light as I seen some incredible Harrier action at Radipole today. This morning I was showing a new member of staff around the reserve when a Marsh Harrier appeared in the northern end of the reserve. Initially thought it was ‘our’ female but soon realised that I didn’t recognise this bird. Raced back to the office to get the camera and spent my lunchtime sitting in the hide watching no Harriers. Packed the camera away and was about to leave but one last scan revealed the newbie harrier hunting over the same place as earlier in the morning. Light was crap and drizzle made the photos worse but they defiantly show a new bird.

Think I am right in saying this is a 2nd calendar year female as she still has quite a lot of her juvenile plumage. Have sent a couple of emails with the pics so will find out soon. So I wonder if this is one of last year’s offspring returning home?? The bird was calling all the time she was in flight but don’t know how significant that is.
By late afternoon the sun appeared so I had to spend the evening in the hide so see if she’s still about. I had heard throughout the day that all three Marsh harrier were visible from the hide! By the time I got there only two of the birds had stayed but they put on a hell of a show! The male was constantly hassling the new bird; every time she took flight he would be right behind her. He would stoop constantly at her until she landed but even when she perched he would still dive at her. It looked pretty aggressive at times. This went on for pretty much the full two hours I was watching which suggests to me that he’s trying to drive the bird away from the site or perhaps he’s just a sex pest? At one point talons were locked and both birds almost crashed into the ground! The subject of polygamy was talked about during the day but after watching this evenings events I very much doubt it. They both roosted at Radipole so perhaps their moods will change by the morning.
Heres a few photo's of this evenings action.

1 comment:

  1. That's an exciting development, although the prospect of reliably ID'ing another distant bird in poor light / up-sun without a photograph of sorts is a little daunting!

    That one doesn't look like either of the Weymouth juveniles I photographed in 2010. One was completely unmarked (above and below) and the other had distinct pale markings on both shouders (more prominent on the left side) and a distinct stripe running lengthwise in the centre of the back.