As Kate Bush once said, "out on the wily, windy moors" today. I really need to have a particular frame of mind for birding in moorland, and that's just to accept whatever you find. The time of year doesn't make any difference, you can spend ages up in the staffordshire moorlands and not see a thing. But for the species you can find its a case of quality rather than quantity. Such a large area to cover as well.
So I had a mixed to reaction to a report of a Rough-Legged Buzzard seen near Swallow Moss and the Mermaid pub yesterday. On one hand it would be very nice to see it, but on the other it's going to be like looking for a needle in a haystack and I could be wasting my time.
I decided to spend the whole afternoon and to just take my time in the area, looking for good vantage points to scan the horizons. Very pleasant weather as well. I spent a bit of time at Boarsgrove, which gives a good view to a large area of heather.
Eventually a Buzzard did fly past, a very brown Common Buzzard. I carefully followed it's progress in the hope that it might attract another raptor. Quite a successful tactic of mine. Except for today. However, the Buzzard did flush out three Red Grouse.
Between here and Swallow Moss I managed to find a few Kestrel, Skylark and Meadow Pipit.
When I arrived at Swallow Moss quite a few birders were there. I assumed looking for the Rough-Legged Buzzard as well as the roosting Hen Harriers. After a while two birders stopped to say to me "it's further down the road". Thinking they meant the Rough-Legged Buzzard. When I got to the spot they mentioned they actually meant a Great Grey Shrike.
So that was a nice surprise and a very good consolation, especially as I missed the Great Grey Shrike here back in early November. I bet it's the same bird and has spent the whole winter in the area. I left the moss probably too early for the Hen Harriers, but I had my fill of roosting harriers at Hickling.