Thursday, 22 October 2015

Harriers at Marloes Mere

An interesting email from Andrew Sims re a visit to Marloes Mere today:

I visited Marloes Mere at 2pm today and had just walked past the YHA when there was a mass lift-off of ducks. Hoping for a raptor treat I walked towards the barbed wire gate just as the farmer came through the gate on his quad bike drove off. Disappointed, I raised the bins to look at the 200+ ducks whirring around and immediately saw 2 harriers flying away gracefully towards Skomer. Happy again. One was large and the other even bigger, Marsh Harriers I thought, but they did not turn for a good view. The ducks settled down again and so did I in the hide. 95% of the ducks disappeared from view, most were Teal or Mallard with a few Wigeon, a couple of Shoveler and a couple of Gadwall. Half an hour later there was more commotion with another duck lift-off and a single crow mobbing a Ringtail harrier. About 100 Teal were flying around the harrier, joining the crow en-masse in trying to drive it off. It ignored the and settled out of view near the northern deep pond and did not move. I presume it was the smaller of the two birds I saw on arrival.

A further half hour wait of occasional views of chiffchaff before the harrier decided to move and I was then treated to an hour of graceful slow moving hunting with several swoops but no obvious kills, but several breaks when it disappeared into the tussocks for 5-10 minutes. It showed no interest in the Teal and I saw no pipits, so I assume it was feeding on frogs or rodents. The only waders it put up were 2 snipe. It finally flew off towards Dale. Pity the camera was in the car!

Andrew Sims