Champions of the Flyway!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Eight Miles High

Rook (no, seriously)

Another beautiful day in the smoke, with temperatures again above 20 degrees centigrade and the city bathing in glorious sunshine; and so another sky-watching session from Lincoln Court, on the east bank of the reservoirs. Today differed from those preceding it by being entirely bereft of anything resembling a wisp of cloud; hence results, and the behaviour of fly-overs, differed accordingly.

this Common Buzzard, at approx. 20,000m, still won the prize for lowest large raptor of the day

Up on the roof for 1245, the first two hours were hard work, with no large raptors recorded; other movements came in the shape of a couple of head-height Skylarks, a few Meadow Pipits, a single Swallow and a high, thermalling-and-then-northbound Rook (a rare migrant here, substantially rarer than e.g. Red Kite). Interestingly, a Great Spotted Woodpecker bounded north at great height and was lost to view way over Edmonton, having originally been picked up over the reservoirs.

But just as it seemed like a good idea to descend and check the bushes, a Kite appeared and swiftly gained height, eventually disappearing into the sky above Alexandra Palace. Ten minutes later, and the most minute speck almost directly overhead soon turned into a Marsh Harrier, thanks to 60x more magnification; ditto a Common Buzzard, which headed southwest shortly after.

Wednesday's altogether more accomodating Marsh Harrier

With no cumulus, it seemed all soaring birds - including gulls, Cormorants, Sparrowhawks and Grey Herons as well as large raptors - had no limiting factors today, and I can't recall seeing a majority of birds recorded all at such great heights.

It's been a good week for birds of prey, with 11 Common Buzzards, three Red Kites, two Marsh Harriers and a Short-eared Owl, as well as an escaped Goshawk, plenty of Peregrines, and the usual omnipresent Sparrowhawks and Kestrels; not bad for central London.