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Saturday, 26 September 2015

Did I see a Male Montagu's Harrier or Hen Harrier?





My wife and I went to the bird hides in the Fenland of Manea, just across from Ely cathedral. We often go here and I have done a number of blogs concerning looking for birds of prey at these hides. It was a very fine late September day with clear blue skies. Therefore Carole and I decide to take a quick drive into the Fenland village and out towards the bird hides once again.

Upon a gate post along the dyke, Carole caught sight of a bird of prey perched and surveying its surroundings. At first we thought it was a common buzzard. It was not a marsh harrier, which always seem to be about this part of the fen. As I looked more closely I could not make out if it was a Hen Harrier or even a Montagu’s Harrier.

We were in a marshy or watery habitat and Hen Harriers prefer treeless moorland. The fen does not have many trees but it’s not moorland. Therefore, I wondered if it was the rarer Montagu’s Harrier. They are very similar to a Hen Harrier and are only summer visitors. They migrate in late September or early October. They are scarce and only breed in small sites in Eastern England, which is where the Fenland is. This bird had all the grey trimmings of a male Montagu’s Harrier, but it could have been a Hen Harrier instead. It was at a fare distance and I took many shots.

The harrier kept flying from the gate post onto the soil and then back. At one time another hawk landed on a post further up by another bird hide and I got a few shots of both.

In the end, I decided to try and move closer for better shot. I managed a few yards along the bridal path once coming down the bird hide’s steps. Then the hawk got spooked and took off. As it went into the clear blue sky I managed to get a few more shots.


If anyone with such knowledge could confirm what type of harrier it is, I would be grateful. I’m thinking it might be a Montagu’s Harrier but I can’t be sure.






























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