After Sunday night at North Duffield I decided to go back and check out the roost to see what was going on. I got into the Geoff Smith hide at about 1715hrs (and met a really nice gentleman) and it wasn't long before the Marsh Harriers started to appear... from all directions! More on these later... but first the other birds which were not half bad either! It was a good evening in the hide with Tim, Jack and Elaine all helping make the counting a bit easier than when I was sat in the hide on my own the other night! We finished off about 2010hrs. Tim got some good pictures too so worth checking out his blog too.
2 x Merlin: A juvenile/female hunting flew straight towards the hide and an adult male seen hunting over the north part of the reserve an hour or so later;
2 x Hobby: A juvenile seen with a kill about 1730 as it flew low towards the village and an adult seen hunting to the right of the hide towards Aughton;
c.500+ Swallow/House Martin hawking over the whole reserve (may be an under-estimation as there was loads of them!);
2 x Wheatear sat on straw bales;
c.100+ Meadow Pipit/Yellow Wagtail flew in from the east towards my wagtail field;
1 x Woodcock flushed by a tractor from Bubwith side;
2 x Snipe flushed by Marsh Harriers; and
2 x Barn Owl (one near hide and one in north).
So how many Marsh Harriers? Well I'd go for at least 11 tonight that roosted, with 2/3 others that may have just carried on through the site. There was at least 2 distinctively plumaged/birds in moult that were present on Sunday that were not recorded tonight. It became quite difficult to count the birds near the end as the farmer came out twice with his tractor which resulted in some/most of the birds being flushed and them moving around a fair bit. However we were all fairly happy with the following:
1 x adult female;
4 x 2nd/3rd year males (variable amounts of grey in tail including 3 males all in the air together); and
6 x juveniles.