Saturday, 22 October 2011

Pallid Harrier - 1st for Durham

So there I was on Thursday finishing off some University work I needed to do for that day when I got a text from Gary Crowder......I knew a Hen Harrier had just been reported at Dorman's Pool but I was a little taken back to hear there was actually a Pallid Harrier at Dorman's Pool! Don't panic! I love raptors and with the influx of Pallid Harriers I was hoping one would turn up somewhere near so I could go and see it, I didn't expect one to turn up in Durham. This record consists the 1st record for Durham.

I picked up "The Finch" at around about 4.15 and we were down Teesside for about 4.35ish. Chris Bell rang to say it had flown off.......then he rang back seconds later...its over the tip! I pulled up at the entrance to Cowpen Bewley Tip and after a few worrying seconds I picked the bird up and got The Finch onto it. Boot open....scopes out....couldn't find it again. Aghhhh! It was being mobbed by a Crow and appeared to fly off toward Greatham Creek. So we went along to Greatham Creek car sign. Chris Bell rang again to say it was back at Dorman's Pool. About a minute later we were at Dorman's and were told it had gone down into the reeds, we stayed until pretty much last light and it didn't surface. First light tomorrow then!

I was up nice and early at 5.40ish on Friday morning. I picked up Derek at around about 6.30 and we were on our way to Dorman's Pool for first light. We arrived around about 06.50ish and it was still pitch black. Just me, Derek and another car next to us, then around 7.00 a small convoy of cars started to arrive and then a steady flow of cars. While waiting for suitable light to walk along to the vantage point I saw a Barn Owl flying over the reedbed. Only the second Durham Barn Owl I have seen this year! They have been hit bad up here. We got onto a good vantage point and about 30 minutes passed and there was still no sign of the bird. It was getting tense, had the bird gone during the night was the only view I was going to get the one I had the previous day. I then lifted my bins at something that had just appeared; "Its up!" is what I seem to recall I shouted out. Thankfully everyone got onto it quickly and we enjoyed superb views as the bird fly past us at close quarters then back over the water and landed on a fence post, shortly after this is dropped down into the reedbed. Smiles all round! Another short while passed and the bird came out of the reedbed and again performed well it then flew towards us again and landed on the ground right in front of us! Wow, full on unobstructed view! It sat for about 4 mins or so before taking flight and heading toward to road so that the assembled crowd on the entrance track toward Dorman's Pool could enjoy this superb bird. The bird came back toward us and then landed again in the reedbed. Brilliant! Satisfied with the views I obtained I decided it was time to leave. I wasn't going to get better views than what I had received, I feel truly privileged to have enjoyed such a rare bird in my own home county. Whilst on site an adult Whooper Swan flew over and another bird was present on Dorman's Pool itself. I love this species and a reminded winter is just around the corner.

(Pallid Harrier - © Andrew Kinghorn)

Please view the following video in HD, if unsure how to do this then please CLICK HERE.

(Pallid Harrier - © Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Pallid Harrier - © Ian Forrest)

 (Pallid Harrier - © Ian Forrest)

A great find Ian and many thanks for allowing me to continue using your images on my blog, that goes for everyone who allows me to use their photos. Thank you very much, it is greatly appreciated. 

Until next time, Foghorn out!

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