Took the day off today. Had lots of plans with visits to several sites, but woke up with a headache and a bad stomach so just went out for a couple of hours.
As seems to be usual these days, Harriers have been reported between Baldock and Royston intermittently this Summer. One eventually got pinned down-a ringtail Montagues near wallington at the old Quail site and has appeared on and off in the area all week. To add to the fun, a male Hen Harrier has been seen on a couple of occasions. Neither has been seen since Wednesday, but in this vast area birds have a habit of vanishing for long periods.
I got there just after 0900, with only a couple of dog walkers for company, but eventually Tony Wileman, one of the Tring birders and a few others appeared (one had spent eight hours earlier in the week without a view). Probably half a dozen Corn Buntings were singing as I arrived, along with large numbers of Skylarks, and on the way up I had encountered lots of Linnets and Yellowhammers as well, so small birds seem to be doing well up here.
First decent sighting was the Battle of Britain flight heading down to London-five Spitfires and a Hurricane flew over around 0930. Next decent sighting, and a bit of an odd one were two Sand Martins heading west.
I stuck it out until noon, as did Tony, but although we had plenty of Red Kites, Buzzards and Kestrels there were not sign of any other birds of prey, however in the heat haze anything more than half a mile away would be largely unidentifiable blobs. The guy who had the eight hour wait had been round the other usual spots-Deadmans Hill, Coombe Road etc and had not seen anything of note.
Be interesting to see if any further repots crop up from the regulars, or if the birds get refound, perhaps at Therfield or maybe the Ashwell area -lots of good habitat to lose a harrier in in the remoter parts of Herts and neighbouring counties.