We have decided to stay at Bramley House for three more nights – it’s perfect for us and our lovely hostess has told us to help ourselves to a couple of bagfulls of apples!  The trees are laden so there’s plenty to go around.

Time to go somewere new today so we’re off to the RSPB Ouse Washes down south in Cambridgeshire, about thirty miles away.  The weather is bright and sunny – again!

We parked easily and headed off to the nearest hide.  There was a chap with one of those large scopes (with a single lens) and there were lots of birds in the air and on the shallow water in front of us.

The Lapwings rise in a huge crescendo...

The Lapwings rise in a huge crescendo…


And land on the residents!

As well as the Lapwings, there are Pochards, Shovelers, Shellduck, Mallards, Teal and Wigeon…


And, of course, some graceful Swans, this time of the Mute variety:


But Swans being Swans, there is bound to be some rivalry going on.  The words “Get outta my pub!” seem relevant here…


DSC_3777DSC_3782DSC_3783DSC_3787 DSC_3788But more excitement was to come.  The chap with the scope suddenly cried, “There’s the Northern Harrier!”  He invited us to look into his scope and there was this quite orange-looking raptor with a stripe on either side of his head. His scope was x72 which was good as it was nigh impossible to see it with the naked eye.  We had never heard of a Northern Harrier but he explained this was a rare visitor from America whose presence on the Ouse Washes had been reported a few days ago.  We were impressed…

Suddenly there was a massive ingress into the hide – about half a dozen twitchers with their scopes and bins.  Word had got around (via Twitter of course) and our hide became the place to be.

The Northern Harrier had flown over to the scrub in front of the hide and, unseen by anyone, had obviously made a kill and was in the process of consuming the hapless bird or rodent.  Luckily, I couldn’t see what she (for a female she was, we discovered afterwards) was lunching on.  I fixed my Sigma lens on the bit of her I could detect and there we all stayed for about an hour, waiting for the moment when she would finish her meal and depart.

DSC_3808My fingers went to sleep holding the shutter down and we took it in turns to keep watch. However, when Pete spotted a Kingfisher on a small tree beside the water, I relinquished the vigil on the Harrier and switched to the Kingfisher instead.  This is only my second view of this wonderful bird and I wasn’t going to miss it!


He crossed over to the other side of the water…


DSC_4020He flew off and attention went back to the Harrier. Suddenly she started to move and made her stealthy way through the scrub towards the edge of the land.  This Pochard was chancing his arm, flying so close…



The Harrier reached the edge and suddenly lifted off.  Luckily, my finger was still on the trigger.

DSC_4081We followed her journey but were unable to get any more pictures.  The twitchers left the hide and we too thought it was about time we wended our way back to Bessie for a cup of tea and a warm up.  It’s surprising how chilly those hides can get when the wind starts to whistle in.

What a great day – again!  If you want further information or photos regarding the Northern Harrier saga, have a look here: