I haven’t been able to get out much at weekends lately due to uni work, but after managing to get ahead I went out yesterday morning with SH, DMcK and MH. We went to Sleddale on the Cleveland/Yorkshire border to see the Rough-Legged Buzzards that have been around for a few weeks.
When we arrived next to the chevrons only one other car was parked there, the Buzzards are proving very popular as by the time we left around 20 cars were parked on the roadside.
We could distantly see a Rough-Legged Buzzard – Lifer, straight away as well as a Great Grey Shrike, which was on top of a pine tree in the valley to the left.
As we watched the Buzzard hovering like a Kestrel over the heather it began to get closer. Another Rough-Legged now appeared and the pair got even closer before landing on a pile of boulders about 150m away from the roadside.
The Great Grey Shrike hunted from various different rocks, fence posts and trees during the time we were there. The Buzzards often flew from the boulders onto the heather before taking to the sky again.
We thought the views couldn’t get any better but as the Buzzards hovered they got closer, so close at one point that I could see all the details of its wings, tail and head through the scope. The paler of the two was particularly good to look at, I don’t think I have ever seen a Common Buzzard as well as we saw the Rough-Legged yesterday, an experience I will never forget.
Also I have never seen as many Red Grouse as yesterday, every time we scanned the heather groups of Grouse could be seen flying across, they even flew low over our heads at one point before one crash landed into a fence.
A Peregrine was mobbing the Buzzards for a while before it was itself mobbed by a Sparrowhawk. A Common Buzzard was the only other raptor seen as Corvids chased it off.
It's amazing that with miles of heather and moorland to choose from the Buzzard decide to hunt so close to the roadside.
On the way back we took a detour to Far Pastures NR in search of Red Kites. Only a single bird showed over the treetops with a Common Buzzard.
An unexpected bonus for the day was in the car park at Far Pastures were we watched the ringing group ring the birds they had just taken from the nets.
A male Bullfinch was amongst the highlights as were 4 Treecreepers and a Goldcrest. I was aloud to release two of the Treecreepers, which didn’t stay in the hand for very long.
Also we got close views of a singing Willow Tit in the car park.