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Hen Harrier on the Attack

19 Oct

With 45 mins to spend at the Atlantic Centre on Luing this afternoon while Helen completed her sewing class I took my coffee to sit in the sun at an outside table. Wasn’t long before I had the company of a female hen harrier working the cliff face beyond the flooded quarry.

Here she is front and centre taking time in the sun to digest her first kill —

female-hen-harrier

She has been busy over there for a few days now and returns with her prey to the same hummock of grass each time to rip it to pieces before taking up station higher on the cliff to rest and check out her next victim. Once spotted she flies off the face in a mass of wings and feathers with her beady eye fixed on some unsuspecting ijit in the reeds and bushes below —

Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)

Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)

This time as I watched her flight through the binoculars – she was coming straight for me – much as in the borrowed pic above. The glasses exaggerated the effect and I reckon I offered a sigh of relief when she slipped sideways and down into the long grass and reeds beyond the pool – where – after a bit of flapping and fighting she emerged victorious clutching a fairly sizeable rodent in one powerful set of talons. She flew the short distance back to her ‘table’ carrying the definitely dead rodent without any visible effort and soon got stuck in to her second meal of the hour. No wonder she looks so well fed.

Hawks of all description appear to do well on Luing. To add to the confusion of identifying various species we have been watching at least one peregrine falcon and other smaller hawks including an injured kestrel who made two unsuccessful attempts to cling to the roof bars of our Yeti at our front door – plus a tawny owl go about their business on different parts of the island for a few weeks now. This time thanks to the reasonably close sighting and a very informative RSPB handbook of Scottish Birds we are pretty sure we have our female hen harrier to add to the mix.

Such a wonderful sight in flight as displayed in this photo by Nigel Forrow —

hen-harrier-4

There is seldom a dull moment when out with binoculars on Luing. Yesterday we watched a yacht making little headway as it took a hammering from strong winds – rough seas and uncompromising tide while attempting the passage by Belnahua Island and Fladda Lighthouse in very difficult conditions. It was a relief to see what we think was the same boat tied at the jetty wall by Cullipool this afternoon.

The weather can change by the minute here amongst the islands and this was our lovely sunset from the garden of Bardrishaig tonight —

bardrishaig-sunset-2

made all the better by news of snowstorms earlier today on Ben Nevis – not too many miles north of here 🙂

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2016 in Isle of Luing

 

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