Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm dreaming of a white (falcon) Xmas

After an anxious day wondering if the recently found Gyr Falcon at Scurlage on The Gower would still be around for the weekend myself and Kevin headed west early on Saturday morning (19.Dec 2009) planning to get there for first light.
Dan and Wayne were unable to join us both having other committments (the fools !!), we duly pulled into Scurlage just after 8.00am and soon found the location on the minor road to Horton.
A loan birder was already at the site having travelled from Bristol that morning and a quick phone call to Colin Gittins confirmed that we were in the right place.
It was bleedin' freezing but the weather conditions were generally good as we prepared to wait for the bird to put in an appearance.
Gyr Falcon has long been on my list of "must have" birds and is probably on a lot of other birders' lists as well,I didn't go for the last "twitchable" bird in Cornwall so this would be another "lifer" and in Glamorgan as well !!
A large pale plastic owl on the roof of a distant farm building due East had Kevin going for a short while as my feet got colder and the number of visiting birders steadily increased.
The falcon would not go short of food as potential prey was plentiful in the shape of good numbers of Lapwings, Goldie Lookin' Plovers and gulls as well as the more common farmland species.
Each time the large flocks were disturbed the sky was scanned for a glimpse of the majestic raptor.
Plenty of Common Buzzards came and went as time wore on and as the weather started to deteriorate the shelter of Kevin's car was a much welcomed comfort.
The band of rain quickly passed and as the weather improved and the sun came out spirits lifted,still no sign of the bird though.
Mid-day came and went,4 hours we had been standing around and the cold was starting to bite.
John Wilson joined us and Martin Bevan,Phil Hill and Martin Bell moved position from their vantage point further down on the main road.
At about 1.15 pm and after a 5 1/4 hour wait a cry went up and the bird we had all been waiting for put in an appearance overhead as it powered past us to come down in a stubble field just the other side of Scurlage.
I picked up my camera and blasted away but the bird although giving excellent binocular views was still quite distant.
We dived into Kevin's car and with several other birders headed over to the stubble field where the bird had been seen to land,after a short search we headed back to our original location in the hope that the bird would make another "fly through".
We were not to be disappointed and after a superb male Hen Harrier had put in an appearance over the fields (there was also a "ringtail" in the fields behind us but I didn't see it ) another cry went up and this magnificent white falcon powered past us once more,it's shear size and the speed and power of it's flight were awesome as it disappeared over the horizon towards Horton.
A phone call from one of the Cardiff lads (cheers guys) confirmed that the bird had been relocated eating a kill in fields just the other side of Horton and after a frantic mad dash the bird was picked up sitting on a fence post about 100m from the roadside.
I quickly got crippling binocular views but just as I was about to get "that" photo the bird took off again having been mobbed by several crows.

We travelled back to the minor road opposite Bank Farm caravan park and after a chat with a few of the lads decided that we'd had about as good a selection of views as we were going to get and decided to call it a day.

We briefly called into Llanrhidian on the way home but having already seen Hen Harrier earlier and with the feeling that nothing else that day would compare with such an impressive raptor headed for home.

What a day,yes it was a long wait but boy oh boy was it worth it,what a magnificent bird,I just hope it stays on a little longer as I for one would will certainly return over the Xmas holiday.


Wayne said...

Fools? Certainly!

CR said...

Would have loved to have seen this one but was working; did see breeding birds in Finnmark, Norway in 2004 but they were not white phase. How about having these in your area Kev!!

Jeff said...

Shame you couldn't get down for this one Col,cracking bird,I'm just hoping it hasn't moved on,would like another go at getting a good photo if it's found again over the Xmas holiday.