Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Heaven's Gate

The chance of a Rough-legged Buzzard virtually on our doorstep seemed too good an opportunity to miss, but with reports of recent sightings over quite a wide area, where to look? I set off on foot for a nine mile loop taking in the old shepherd's cottage at Broadstruther and Hawsen. Much of the route had little other than the fine dark autumn colours of the moors and the regular calls of the grouse rising up from the heather..... but not even so much as a Common Buzzard in the wide open skies to raise hopes. After a couple of hours walking, I met two birders at the locally named 'Heaven's Gate' who had recently watched the Rough -legged Buzzard hunting from that vantage point, but they reported that it had flown off up over Broadhope after catching a vole (?) and hadn't been seen for twenty minutes or so. With the mist rolling down obscuring the top of Broadhope, I eventually decided to continue along my route....but amazingly, I was only fifty metres or so beyond Heaven's Gate when the bird came gliding down low over the valley with its horizontally- held narrower wings and significantly longer tail. It passed close by at eye level and flew up to disappear over the Hawsen Crags, revealing its white tail with characteristic black terminal band as it did so. What a 'Heavenly' view for all three of us, thumbs raised all round !

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