Rare bird of prey spotted near Royston

PUBLISHED: 12:01 29 September 2018

Pallid harrier (juvenile) flying over the Icknield Way, Royston. Picture: David Hatton

Pallid harrier (juvenile) flying over the Icknield Way, Royston. Picture: David Hatton

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A young bird of prey has been causing a flutter in Crow country since it was spotted off the Icknield Way between Therfield and Royston last week.

Birders lined up on the Icknield Way trying to spot the pallid harrier, the first record for Herts. Picture: David HattonBirders lined up on the Icknield Way trying to spot the pallid harrier, the first record for Herts. Picture: David Hatton

It’s the first record of the pallid harrier in Hertfordshire – there are approximately 100 records for the British Isles, but these are mainly from the northern isles and coastal counties.

The nearest regular breeding is in Finland, with most of the source of the visitors to Britain being from there and far-eastern Europe and western Russia.

Keen birder David Hatton, from Royston, said: “Seeing it make a low flight in sunshine over beautiful Therfield Heath was a real highlight for me, enabling a good photo to be taken as a keep-sake”.

According to David, 500 birders from all over the county and further reaches of England have twitched the young bird this past week.

He added: “It can be hard to see when settled on the ground but fortunately spends several hours a day touring the conservation-friendly farms in the area such as Hay Farm, Park Farm and Greys.

“Then it can be seen flying low over the field boundaries and hedgerows looking to ambush its prey.

“If trying to see it, it’s best to watch for it from along the Icknield Way footpaths between the heath and Therfield village, keeping out of the private fields.”

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