Monday, 14 June 2010

Red-footed Falcons (Falco vespertinus) - Wilstone Reservoir, Herts. 29/05/2010

Wilstone Reservoir

I decided to take a visit to see the adult male Red-footed Falcon which had been found on the 26th May at Wilstone Reservoir in Hertfordshire, I had read Lee Evans detailed blog on the bird after he had seen it and also seen Alan Stewart's brilliant photos of the bird eating a vole. The bird looked to good to miss and as I have only seen female and juvenile birds till now I had to go and have a look at this fantastic looking male bird.

It was a beautiful day, nice and warm with a few clouds against a blue sky. I arrived at Wilstone Reservoir and met a small group of birders at the top of the steps, it was obvious they were watching the Red-footed Falcon so I made my way over to them. I asked politely if the bird was still showing and was shocked to find out that a birder from Wiltshire, Nigel Pleass had spotted a second bird amongst the group of Hobbies and adult male Red Foot, this second bird was a 1st summer male and blended in incredibly well with the Hobbies making it difficult to find when lost to view. They continued back and forth hawking insects along the cemetery end of the reservoir often going out of sight behind the trees only to return moments later, this continued all afternoon with both Red Foots being particularly active.

Mute Swan

I eventually made the decision to walk down to the jetty where the views were very good, both Red-footed Falcons continued to fed often drifting over the reservoir towards where everybody was standing only to turn at the last moment and head back towards the tree line on the bank. The skies were filled with Swift that weren't particularly evident by eyesight alone, you could see good numbers but that multiplied when looking through binoculars, an evening count estimated numbers at 2,200 birds. Whilst watching the Red-footed Falcons a Curlew flew in from the direction of cemetery corner, dropping low over the reservoir it couldn't make it's mind up where to land and eventually headed towards the car park and was lost to sight due to the glare from the sun.

Back at home both Rook and Carrion Crow are already taking their young in to the fields and we seem to be finding a few strays that need a little help from time to time, I don't like to interfere with mother nature but when the odds are stacked against you I don't think it hurts once in awhile. The fact that the Buzzards are sat in the trees watching them, Red Kites are circling overhead, there's a pair of rather large Hawks that reside very close and huge numbers of Deer around all the time doesn't come in to it, okay it does so I picked him up and moved him, he repaid me by sh**ting on me, that's the thanks you get!

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