Wednesday, 17 August 2016


A little bit of excitement was caused by the sighting by Martin Cock of this juvenile Montagu's harrier on Reeveshall on Sunday 14th. The bird was first seen perched on a fencepost near the seawall before it flew a short distance to land in a nearby grass field. At first it remained hidden from view until it flew to another part of the same field where it was watched for just under an hour and I managed to take these first two pictures.

When the bird stretched its wings, a coloured ring was seen on its leg. Some enquiries by Adrian Kettle revealed this Montagu's harrier was a youngster born this spring in north Norfolk. An interesting journey the bird has taken, stopping off on Mersea Island while on its way south for the winter.

The markings on the head and face were very distinctive with a dark band down the side of the face and also the pale spectacled-appearance. The bird had a general warm orangey-brown colouring, especially underneath. Andy Field took the photos above and below.

The bird at times was nodding off and could be seen closing its eyes for a couple of seconds a few times. Other times it was looking all around and on one occasion watching closely as an anxious and noisy buzzard passed overhead. The harrier took off to fly leisurely to the west and appeared to land in a recently cut wheat field over 500 metres away but sadly it didn't provide any more views.
The last Montagu's harrier to stop off on Reeveshall was in the same mid-month period 12 years ago, on the 13th and 14th August 2004 with the previous one to that on 19th August 2002.

Also seen in that area of Reeveshall at the north end of Shop Lane was a hobby flying east, 2 marsh harriers, 2 common buzzards, 2 kestrels and a juvenile sparrowhawk still calling from the wood.
A whinchat and wheatear were by the Shop Lane seawall, while in the Pyefleet 2 whimbrel, 50 cormorant and 50 avocets were of note.

The first returning wheatear on the Island was this one along the Strood seawall on Friday 12th. The bird was flying back and forwards along the seaward side whenever another walker passed by.
A juvenile cuckoo was flushed off the seawall and headed to a hedge on the Strood Hill fields. In one stubble field 300 golden plover were well hidden. Two kestrels were hunting over the fields.

Three grey herons and three little egrets were seen in the fields and ditches inside the Strood seawall.
Several birds were flycatching from a swarm above bushes beside the dyke including a couple of sedge warblers, reed warbler, whitethroat and even two reed buntings were catching flies in the air.

As  the tide came in that Friday evening a greenshank was among 250 redshank, 20 dunlin and a couple of whimbrel were of note. A Mediterranean gull was seen near a big flock of 300 black-headed gulls after the flying ants over the Ray.

No comments: