Apparently the pigeon won - the peregrine was later seen sulking on the South Brooks!
With up to 3 peregrines hunting over the reserve at the moment you've a great chance of seeing more of this sort of scene re-enacted. It seems amazing that the fastest bird in the world sometimes struggles to catch its dinner but more often than not, the hunting attempts fail.
Thanks to Gareth Hughes for the fantastic action shot!
Gareth also sent through these stunning photos of a pair of stonechat.
Almost forgot to mention that the great grey shrike has been seen again today - this time from Hanger viewpoint.
The bright clear skies tempted me out this morning, so I donned my woolly hat and gloves and took a wander around the wetland trail.
As I left the visitor centre, I bumped into Pete. We chatted away whilst a pair of stonechats bobbed up and down in the field and a mistle thrush flew across. There was a lot of duck movement down on the South Brooks and a quick scan revealed the source of the panic - a speedy peregrine - who pursued several different groups of ducks and lapwings without success. Pete's early start had rewarded him with views of 3 Bewick's swans - the first this winter. Sadly they had taken off and flown southwards by the time I reached West Mead hide, but well worth keeping a look out for them over the coming weeks.
As I wandered down the zig zags I heard the soft 'peu, peu' call of the bullfinch and then briefly spotted a flash of pink, before a white bottom disappeared into the blackthorn. Fieldfare were dotted all around the trail - although not in big flocks this morning. Down in West Mead hide, 4 snipe were playing hiding & seek in the rushes on the near edge of the pool and there was a great range of Puilborough's winter ducks; wigeon, teal, pintail and shoveler looking rather splendid in the winter sunshine.
Snipe by Mick Davis.
From Winpenny we scanned for the marsh harrier and short-eared owls that have been putting in daily appearances - no luck for me this morning - although a nice pale-fronted buzzrd perched atop a fence post and a sparrowhawk flew overhead. Later on, a barn owl was reported from the hide, hunting across the river bank.
Along adder alley, more winter thrushes and many blackbirds (we must have had an influx of continental birds with this cold snap) and 3 tiny goldcrests hopped around the bushes.
On to the North Brooks and a good scan from Hanger View. The ducks and waders were clearly rather twitchy and kept fidgeting...there on the ground nearby was another peregrine. It didn't look like she was in the mood for hunting but perhaps an earlier fly by had alarmed all the other residents. Amongst the thousands of Canada geese were many graylag geese and scores of wigeon, teal, pintail and shoveler. We reached just short of 100 black-tailed godwits - tricky to count as they kept jostling about or taking to the skies.
Feeling rather guilty for being out and about enjoying myself, I returned to the visitor centre. In my absence, the Dartford warbler had been spotted!
Altogether a lovely wintery collection of wildlife.
A seasonal message from Margot and the shop team...
It has been quite an exciting time recently in the visitor centre & shop. When a Dartford warbler was first spotted by a visitor on the fence line a couple of weeks ago there was a rush to confirm the sighting. We were fortunate that David, one of the Wardens, was able to see it both through a scope and binoculars. Since then many people have used the terrace outside, and the visitor centre window to spot a Dartford warbler.
We've not got a photo of 'our' Dartford warbler yet - if anyone does manage to capture it on camera we'd love to see it!
Dartford warbler by Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
Having the scopes & binoculars in use in this way could be why we have been fortunate to see aerial battles between a marsh harrier & a peregrine on several occasions. My favourite sighting was a short eared owl in the far distance.
None of these sightings would have been possible without the magnification provided by scopes and binoculars. We are fortunate to have our expert from our supplier visiting on Saturday November 28th & Sunday 29th. Whether you would like to buy for yourself, or to buy a Christmas present for someone you love do come and try our large selection.
Just in time for the weekend (from Friday 27 November) we'll be offering some great reductions on a selection of our top-of-the-range binoculars; the older model Swarovski ELs and the Leica Ultravid HD+. If you would like to find out which binoculars we have in stock for the weekend then please call us at the visitor centre on 01798 875851.