Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Raptors, raptors everywhere!

What a day! With the Easter holidays upon us, trips to the hide are really busy this week and today both sessions were almost full. It has been a beautiful day - warm sunshine, blue skies with puffy white clouds, and Loch Frisa looking like a sheet of glass.

When we arrived with our visitors for the morning trip Frisa was obligingly sat in the favoured "off-duty" tree whilst Skye incubated their eggs, sitting well down in the nest cup to keep those precious eggs safe and warm. Everyone had a great view of Frisa through the scopes and this season we also have a fantastic live camera set up which we can pan round to home in on the birds and then show on our screen in the hide.

Frisa stayed put, preening and stretching until we had finished our introductory talk, then took off and after circling above the nest wood she turned and headed towards the hide. We all rushed outside and had wonderful views of her flying right above us before she began circling higher and higher using the thermals to help her. As if that wasn't enough a call went up to point out another bird to the south which proved to be a Golden Eagle. With both birds in the sky it was easy to see the difference between the two species - the huge broad wings of the Sea Eagle (hence the description coined by a crofter on Fair Isle many years ago - a "flying barn door"). The Sea Eagle's flat wing profile, large head with an enormous yellow beak and the short, wedge-shaped white tail contrasted with the shallow v-shaped profile of the Golden Eagle with its narrower wings. The Golden Eagle flies with its finger-shaped wing tips upturned. Its tail is longer and more square than the Sea Eagle, and its head is smaller and appears hunched back into its shoulders when it is flying.

As if this wasn't enough, a pair of Common Buzzards joined in the display. So many of our visitors ask us how to tell the difference between eagles and buzzards, and here we were with the perfect opportunity to see it - the buzzards smaller with a much more pronounced v-shaped profile, and thermaling in tighter circles above us.

Eventually all the birds drifted off in different directions but the display wasn't over. A male Sparrowhawk (which regularly comes in to try its luck with the birds on our feeders) began circling overhead, mobbed by Hooded Crows. The local Ravens flew over their nest crag, diving on each other and displaying.

And finally, our Buzzard-cam came into its own! Last year we had a camera set up viewing a Buzzard's nest. A pair of Buzzards added twigs and grass to it throughout the spring but then moved to another nest to rear their family. We decided to leave the camera in place this year and every morning more material has been added to the nest - but we never saw it happening. Then today we checked the monitor and there was the female, carefully weaving grass into the nest. It was fascinating to watch her on the big screen.

Our visitors were amazed; so much activity in the space of two hours! And our afternoon group were not disappointed either, with Frisa, the Buzzards and the Sparrowhawk putting in repeat performances. Raptorphile heaven!

1 comment:

  1. As a former RSPB Assistant Warden, I wish you the very best this season :).
    Kind regards,


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