Today I went on the SBSG raptor-watching field trip to Windy Corner near Howden Dams. Despite the weather forecast, and my fear of a total drenching, it was actually fine for most of the morning, with only a few showers which didn’t last very long. And, despite its name, Windy Corner proved to actually be quite sheltered.
The main lure today was goshawks, a lifer that I actually got very early in the morning. They were tantalisingly brief views of a hunting bird, which sent a massive flock of siskins scattering as it dived into the woods. Later on a distant individual could be seen for longer, but further away. A shame it never showed better, but it was good to see a bird that’s long been on my wish list.
Other raptors on show were a peregrine (in a spectacular ruckus with four ravens), a good few sparrowhawks and buzzards, and a couple of kestrels. As well as the raptors, ravens (which are a bird I’ve not seen in Britain since I was a kid) showed well at various points and in good numbers, and made me a bit embarassed it’d taken me so long to see one again.
As well as these, there were a pair of goldeneye on the reservoir, a couple of great spotted woodpeckers overhead, a massive flock of bramblings, a couple of curlews, a few goldcrest, and another lifer for me – a crossbill that flew past. About bloody time!
A very big thanks to Richard and Helen for giving me a lift there, and pointing stuff out and clinching IDs for a raptor novice!
Just a little disclaimer to finish with – you really have to be careful as a blogger when writing about the location of certain birds of prey, as you don’t want to be giving too much detail about their whereabouts to persecutors. However, as Windy Corner is such a well-publicised viewpoint for raptor-watching, there’d be little purpose in being vague about the location. If you plan on blogging about rarer birds of prey you have seen, especially around breeding times, have a serious think about who may be reading your posts and how they may be using that information – if in doubt contact your local birding group or county recorder for advice.