Christmas Cracker

December 24, 2011 at 8:59 pm

On the seventeenth of December it was a cold day with sleet showers in a North West wind and the hills around were covered in snow as I went for a walk on Hopwood hoping to see a Short Eared Owl. I encountered a brown raptor quartering the rushes and as it was flying into the wind its white rump caught my attention. To my amazement it was a Ringtailed Harrier and flew close by on several occasions giving me a good view of its yellow eyes, indicating it was a female Hen Harrier. It was the best bird I have seen on Hopwood during the last thirty years of watching and a bird I could have only dreamt of seeing within view of the center of Manchester. The day was completed with the sighting of a male Merlin, a Jack Snipe and four Woodcock, making it the best Winter birding I have ever had locally. Needless to say the Harrier had moved on within the hour and further visits in perfect weather produced nothing.

The cold weather also improved the birds coming into the garden with individual Reed Buntings coming and a welcome pair of Bullfinches. A Song Thrush was in full song on the twenty first and on another day the male Sparrowhawk had to release a Starling from its talons as we came to its rescue. Not in my back garden being the appropriate comment!