It started out as such a nice day! I could see the storm brewing as I headed up on the fell, but the light created by the contrasting dark storm clouds and patches of sunny blue sky made for perfect harrier spotting conditions – even if it was a little breezy!
Alas, the four hours I managed to sit and watch, before the rumbling thunder clouds unleashed their torrent of hail stones on me and I was forced to retreat, did not yield any sign of a harrier. A pair of merlin were a joy to watch and I was accompanied by the song of a male ring ouzel singing his heart out for the first hour but harriers, there were not.
We do have a harrier back on the estate, 74843 arrived back in Bowland over the weekend. We knew this after Stephen Murphy reported that she had left County Durham for her home fells last week. Yesterday she was seen by Mick in a clough less than 3km from where she fledged last year.
But will she stick around this time? Is there a male anywhere near by to tempt her to stay? Although she’s only a first year bird, many female harriers will breed in their first year, but in order to do so they obviously need a mate and so far this year, males in Bowland have been few and far between. I’ll be sure to let you know how she gets on. Hopefully this is just a late breeding year.