Friday, 11 February 2011

Rollercoaster Raptors

The familiar voice of Melvyn Bragg dissecting the history of the discovery of the nervous system chuntered on the radio as I drove; fluid chambers and wince-inducing live brain examinations, albeit on criminals, so socially acceptable of course; sensations moving through the fluid in the nerves(or so they thought) back and forth from the brain. The discussion, focussed on the history and mechanics, shed little light on why the bright blue sky and sunshine combined with the Robin song that seemed to come from all points as I stepped from the car had the immediate uplifting impact on my own, thankfully intact, central nervous system.
The same song every 40 or 50m interspersed with the urgent 'quick quick' calls of the Chaffinch and the keen to get involved Coal Tits clamouring 'me too, me too' was a constant aural companion as I walked.

Though I walked for 4-5 miles today little else was seen, a few Crossbills and a distant Great Spotted Woodpecker.
 Common Crossbill (2nd-calendar year male?)

I moved to higher ground and a good vantage late morning in time for the big show, as the sun warmed the air raptors began to rise. First a Buzzard way west of my vantage, then a Sparrowhawk turning slowly and drifting east out of sight; the next slow scan across the vista produced a female Goshawk slowly flapping and gaining a little height before dropping into trees below, quickly followed by a male smashing into the top of a nearby tree. Like an eager over-excited teenager the male flapped butterfly-like trying to attract attention, before dashing back and forth on short impatient flights.
A few minutes later further east another female up high, slowly circling with the familiar slow wingbeats looking almost owl or harrier like with the exaggerated deep beats; then higher and higher, clouds passing behind as it ascended the crest of the coming rollercoaster before plunging slowly and rising triumphant wings held tight to body defying gravity in gut wrenching upward reverse stoops, six perhaps seven times repeated.

Later in the day in the afternoon sun, I had to drop the fair lady at Alnmouth rail station, I nipped down to Birling Carrs on the way back; a fairly calm sea held three Great Crested Grebes and a Slavonian Grebe. Further south still 2 Barn Owls hunting the eastern edge of the north pool were the highlight of a late afternoon splodge in the mud around East Chevington, though 36 Goldeneyes many of which were in vigorous display pushed them close.

I left with a posse of Whoopers overhead heading south presumably to the Cresswell roost.

Whooper Posse

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