It was a fine morning and after having two trips to Uyeasound school (Sula forgot her fiddle, but at least I did see two Slavonian Grebes on the 2nd trip) I headed around to the shop in Baltasound for some milk and stuff. Just as I was leaving, Willy - the crofter from Northdale - pulled along side and said he'd had a harrier there down by the burn. Asking 'how long ago?' , he replied 'about 10 minutes' - I don't need telling twice, I was off !
Getting down there, I started scanning the fields and fence posts but to no avail. Driving along to the pull-in by the burn, I scanned the fields and marsh again, straining my eyes to the distance in the hope of seeing the bird but to no luck. After a further 5 minutes I decided to drive on up to the croft and have a look around there. Just as I was about to start the engine, I looked in front of me (as you would I suppose when you move forward in a car) when suddenly it hit me. There in front of me less that 50yds away was the Pallid Harrier, it was sitting quietly on the small dead tree at the side of the burn preening. When Willy had said it was down by the burn, I presumed he meant it had been flying along by it ; when he drove down the road, he would have been less than 12ft away from the bird. I had been totally engrossed in looking across the fields and marsh I'd not seen it right under my nose.
All I had to do now was to try and get the car door open without spooking the bird, easier said than done. With the door open and the bean bag resting on the hinge point, I managed over 60 shots in around 5 minutes, all with the bird totally at ease. I don't think it can get any better than that, a quality experience..................
Juvenile Pallid Harrier