Raptor watching this winter
There are lots of nature reserves around the UK where you might see birds of prey this winter, including, if you are very lucky, the endangered Hen Harrier.
Ruth Tingay and Mark Avery from Wild Justice will be looking for raptors at the following locations on the following evenings just before and around dusk. If you are out looking for raptors too, then say hello!
These are not Wild Justice ‘events’, they take place on land open to the public, mostly nature reserves, and entry or parking charges may apply.
Here is where we intend to be:
- Wallasea Island RSPB nature reserve, Essex, Sunday 26th January, from seawall by the RSPB car park. See here for an account of our visit.
- Titchwell RSPB nature reserve, Norfolk, Friday 7th February, 3pm-5pm. The RSPB run a regular series of walks and we’re going to be on this one. You can come too but there is a fee (but you get tea and cake as well as birds) and booking is essential – click here for more information. (car park charges for non-members).
- Parkgate, The Wirral, Sunday 9th February (public car park north of The Boathouse public house in Old Baths public car park) after 1pm.
- Wicken Fen National Trust nature reserve, Cambridgeshire, Sunday 16th February (car park charges for non-members of NT or Scottish National Trust, raptor watch from boardwalk and tower southwest of visitor centre).
At all sites there is a very good chance of seeing Marsh Harriers, and a chance of seeing the much rarer Hen Harrier. Bird sightings can never be promised and are weather-dependent.
The best time to look is from 90 minutes before sunset at Wallasea, Titchwell and Wicken Fen as the birds assemble at favoured sites to roost. Parkgate is dependent on high tides filling the saltmarsh and many birds of prey, herons, owls and corvids feed on the displaced rodents.
Birdwatching in winter can be a cold pastime – wear warm and waterproof clothes. In heavy rain observations are impossible and not much fun so consult a weather forecast before travelling to check whether your journey might be fruitless. A pair of binoculars will enable you to see distant birds in much more detail.
Wild Justice is fundraising in the run-up to the first birthday of its launch – click here for details of how to donate. Thank you for all your support so far. We’ll be providing an update on Tuesday.