Friday, December 23, 2011

Spring in Winter

Steady rain all night, bright-beaded on Mistletoe hanging over the porch door, silver thread suspended from one crushed, pallid berry, slimy innards stretched thin by raindrops. Slithering down a rain-sodden slope, rain pattering on hood and leaves, the air is not cold: Great Tit rings first two-note couplet from dripping woods; Song Thrush loud in first full song in the valley below. Each mild spell moves the season along: first bird song; Narcissi points, shiny green through turf; only buff Hazel catkins still tight and hard awaiting Spring.

Out on the causeway looking for Hen Harrier: familiar Buzzard watches from the airfield control tower; Shelduck graze bright white amongst sere sedges; dun Curlew stand tall pointing long bills, but nothing moves over reed-beds or fence line. Then one fence post is topped by a brown and pale shape, telescope confirming female Hen Harrier, just lifting off to hunt down the fence line, swaying and side-slipping low over tall grasses and dark gorse. Suddenly a Gull-like, black-tipped, pale grey form appears, swooping low from above and behind. The larger female flips over, talons stretched upward briefly towards those extended from above before flipping back to hunting flight.

On Tuesday, neither Harrier located, but driving back along the causeway a characteristic dark vertical form stands out on the flat salting: Peregrine, glaring fiercely back over slate-blue cope, black-hooded and white cheeked, yellow cere clearly visible before pushing off in powerful flight, low across the flats.

Thursday, and not a raptor in sight except the control tower Buzzard, but returning home, two, long-winged, long-tailed forms drift lazily over treetops in a cliff-formed up-draught. The Red Kites are joined by four Ravens mobbing a soaring Sparrow-hawk whilst simultaneously engaged in deep croaking aerial chases and flip-flopping display flights, rush of wings audible from below.















Wildlife Wales Activities: www.wildlife-wales.co.uk

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