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Sunday, 15 January 2012

Rough-leg at last!

Walking down again through Fritton woods following an earlier sighting of the Rough- leg, it was good to meet John H, Paul & Jane. They hadn't seen it, was it to be my fifth dip for this bird? A female Marsh Harrier was perched on the deck just beyond the reeds by the river, in exactly the same position I had seen her last night. A further 2 female Marsh Harriers quartered the reeds, and to complete the girly theme, a female Sparrowhawk flew out of the wood and left over the marshes.
John H said he had a bird which looked interesting but it was a long, long way away and initially it could either have been the Rough- leg or a large female Marsh harrier. It was seen sitting on a post on the right edge of a wooden gate post. It showed a dark back and tail and pale head and breast.
It looked promising and we continued to observe, but we also wanted to rule out an abberant Common Buzzard and when more plumage features could be seen, clearly on size and shape it looked just too big and far too wide in the girth (of the breast) for a Marsh Harrier. It showed a pale cream head and breast with dark streaking on it (classic RFB features), the breast was puffed out making it look quite corpulent. It showed a dark brown streaked back with what looked like creamy streaks.
But the tail looked all dark. it was only when it started preening and it lifted its tail to the vertical that I could make out white on the mid tail and uppertail, this became more apparent as it preened.
At this point OFB rang to say he and Ricky F were watching a RFB from Burgh Castle and their location fitted our bird precisely.
When the bird preened again, I could clearly make out a lot of white on the tail (except the dark tip) and we could finally say that we were watching a magnificent immature Rough-Legged Buzzard. Regular correspondent Paul W arrived and concurred with our ID, too.
Leaving shortly later, I was delighted to spot 8 delightful Crossbills (including 2 stunning brick- red males) feeding from the very top of a very tall leylandii tree just past the Fritton Lodge on north side of the track. An incongrous setting for them, I expected to see them in a Pine tree but they appeared happy on the Leylandii (around 5 females seen, one very green female sat a foot down from the top giving resonable views, the other 3 birds appeared to be immature birds but a real treat to see and new for 2012.
A trip to Southwold with Jenny revealed 1 Redwing in the Churchyard as we walked through but when we walked back at least 8 Redwings were seen calling and flying out of some holly bushes.

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