Its not often I get that pit in the stomach feeling any more. The urge to twitch was there and had to be satisfied, even though it wasn’t a tick. Actually I have seen three before, but Gyr still has that amazing magnetism, that you must go and see. Two White ones and a Grey (they come in two colour morphs)over the years have brought a satisfied grin while two others have been frustratingly lost in fleeting flash past moments.
Saturday’s news of one seen by a mystery observer effectively outside my house left me a bit raw. Sunday searches drew a blank but a text on Monday from Countryside Ranger Julie to say a male Hen harrier was eating a gull on Ness machair raised an eyebrow. The former would be rare, but eating a gull would pretty much be a first in itself, the diet usually being voles and pipits sized critters. A phone conference was about to convene so I passed the message to Tony Marr and refocused on work.
Post conference I checked the phone – two messages from Tony and Julie. Dare I listen? That sinking feeling was welling up inside me. True enough the harrier was a Gyr, and a white one at that.
Two hours later and I was on the bus north, collected Troy en route, and made it to Ness. The hunt till dusk was fruitless. A neat Larus trio (Little, Iceland and Glaucous) just didn’t satisfy enough and it was that depressing trek home again – but not before Mr Marr had delivered the final blow to the solar plexus with a look at his gripping photos……