Saturday, 3 September 2011

The battle for hunting rights

I have spent the last three evenings and one early morning trying to get another sighting of the Owl but to no avail. Squandering time gazing into the fields not only bemuses the passing cyclists but brings a certain peace along with a better knowledge of the daily cycle of events and the odd bonus.

Currently Prestwick Carr is blessed with a number of Kestrels. Four visible from the same spot is not uncommon which probably means there are twice that number locally. I suspect it is one or two family groups and most are juveniles but I did catch this nice large female on Wednesday.

Two to four Buzzards are also present with one pair spending most of their time hunting up and down one fenceline in the centre. Not exactly the most strenuous form of hunting as they spend a lot of time perched on posts waiting also taking advantage of the electricty poles that run alongside the fence for a higher vantage point. All this suggests the small mammal population must be pretty healthy.

The Wildlife Trust (I presume) gave the Carr a trim cutting diagonal swathes through the rough pasture which from the air probably looks like some rappers hairstyle. The birds immediately took advantage with Crows picking up prey from the freshly cut areas and Magpies on the fringe taking advantage of the bounty. This probably explains all the hunting from perches as I suspect the birds just had to wait for their prey to be driven toward them by the disturbance.

The gathering of birds all looking for the same meal means arguments are pretty common. The yickering of Kestrels is a regular occurance as they argue amongst themselves or harass the Buzzards or are in turn harassed by the Crows. It's a seemingly endless cycle. Last evening I saw a Kestrel glide down from its perch onto prey and carry it to a fence post to eat where it was set upon by a Buzzard who was then immediately challenged by two Crows eventually soaring up high to loose them and back over the woods. I suspect in all of this the luckless prey was dropped either to fight another day or be finished off by the waiting Magpies.

The other benefit of time spent is bonus sightings which saw number 97 on the year list being a male Merlin that flew fast and low over the grassland. I primed the camera as it was about to land when a Kestrel dived down and it carried on its way. A female Sparrowhawk also makes regular passes trying to pick off something from the large Goldfinch flock feeding on the thistles and my spotter Bill reports a juvenile Marsh Harrier through Bellasis on Friday evening.

Frustration with photography has been a common fealing during this period. All that has occured is at a distance that makes it impossible to capture detail images and compounded by the calling of Bullfinches in the hedgerow. There's loads and not one wants to show itself! Deer are easier.

1 comment:

  1. The lousy light of the so called summer doesn't help much either.