Today’s objective was to spend a few hours in the northern New Forest checking potential Raven territories, in an area where I recorded two pairs on 01 Feb. The first pair appear to be nesting on electricity pylons, as I saw one bird moving between a couple of pylons on three separate occasions (in an area where they have also recently been reported on the local Hampshire Bird News site). The second pair aren’t yet nesting but are clearly territorial around some large conifers – the male was seen taking off and displaying briefly before swiftly intercepting a third bird over a mile away and robustly escorting it away from the territory! These two territories appear to be about 3 km apart, and it will be interesting to see if any are found this year that are more closely spaced than this.
The open heath at this season can appear rather drab and lifeless, but despite the cold, cloudy, and increasingly damp conditions, a few heathland birds were singing, including Woodlark, Dartford Warbler, Skylark and Meadow Pipit. It was encouraging to record a total of five Dartford Warblers and four singing Woodlarks during the 9 km trek, while Buzzard and Sparrowhawk were also noted. However, the highlight was a distant but spectacular view of a Peregrine attacking six (previously unseen) Lapwings – the Peregrine soon isolated one unfortunate bird and repeatedly stooped at it, leading to both birds plummeting towards the ground before swooping up and repeating the process. This happened maybe a dozen times over a period of several minutes, before the Lapwing eventually managed to tower into the sky and the discouraged Peregrine drifted away for an easier meal!