During the third week of May, I received a tip-off from Richard Hampshire of Tophill Low that a pair of Marsh Harriers were believed to be building a nest at South Marsh West. Richard asked me to keep this a secret until he was sure that they were firmly established. As promised, I have maintained my silence and have only made a couple of visits ‘out-of-hours’ and only stayed less than and hour during each of my visits.
Of course it quickly became one of Tophill Low’s worst kept secrets and most of the regulars visitors soon learned of their presence! I understand that the chicks have now hatched and Richard has finally lifted his embargo.
I have posted a few images on my Flickr page during the past few weeks and have received some very kind comments from other photographers and the birding community. I have kept my word and not revealed the location or tagged my images with the location, ‘Tophill Low’.
I sincerely hope that everyone who visits the hide does so responsibly and with the welfare of these magnificent birds foremost in their minds. It would be a tragedy if this pair of harriers were disturbed. The nest-site is within a hundred metres of the hide and even those with limited photographic equipment should be able to obtain some fantastic pictures.
The images below were all photographed during two short visits of little more than an hour. I won’t be back, at least not for a while. I don’t like the crowds and I want others to enjoy their visit too. The South Marsh West hide at Tophill Low isn’t very large and I would guess that not more than ten people could be accommodated with a good view of these harriers. So my advice would be: please don’t be a hide-hog, enjoy your visit and let as many people as possible share in this amazing spectacle. Don’t forget to look out for the nesting Cetti’s warblers too. Although I do hope you have better luck than I did trying to capture an image of these little birds!
[As always, please feel free to ‘click’ on any image to see a larger size on my Flickr page]