Most of the macro moths I'm catching at the moment are pretty straight forward to identify, so an unidentified pug was taking time this morning when my phone went. It was news from our newest Bockhill Birder, Alison, that she was watching a Montague's Harrier. There was no contest, I left the Pug, still as yet unresolved and hurried off to see the Harrier.
I caught up with it about twenty minutes later and Alison and I watched it head past the Empty Wood and head up the hill towards Kingsdown Road and the horse paddocks beyond.
It did quarter along the large field of flax, and we had some hopes that we would be able to keep it in view for a while.
In case this was the only chance I got I did take some distant photos, I reckon that it was around 500 yards away, so they were never going to be more than distant record shots.
Finally it made one more sweep along the top of the field and disappeared over the ridge towards the next valley. We decided to walk to the top in the hope that it was still hunting in that area.
As we walked up the hill a Northern Wheatear ran along the path in front of us and stopped on the side to give us a quizzical look.
We were surprised at how close it allowed us to walk before if flew a short distance in to the field. We walked to the top of the path where we had a panoramic view looking NW. Unfortunately we failed to relocate the Harrier.We did witness some soaring by a pair of Sparrowhawks and had a Hobby speed past us at the Freedown.
At this time of year their are always a good number of dragonflies patrolling the foot paths around the wood at Bockhill. The seem to particularly like one area of bramble and elderberry trees. It may be that these attract a lot of the small flies that these efficient predators feed on. Today there were two Southern Hawkers, Aeshna cyanea hunting in the area. Dragonflies are very nosey animals and as soon as I stood watching them one or other would break off it's normal circuit to come and have a closer look at me. One did have a short rest quite low down. Both Southern and Migrant Hawkers are often found here, and both have a narrow yellow triangle at the top of the abdomen. The Southern Hawker has two broad yellowish green stripes on the top of the thorax (antehumeral stripes), while the Migrant Hawker has just two tiny lines.
This close up of the business end of the "Dragon" shows the yellowish-green sides to the thorax, the Migrant Hawker has two distinct broad yellow stripes.