Today saw the return of the male marsh harrier to Radipole Lake after an absence of several months while it was breeding at Lodmoor.
Perched just in front of the hide I was able to appreciate what an unusually plumaged bird this is.
Most male marsh harriers are predominantly grey and brown but this bird lacks any of the grey colours apart from some grey on the tail.
It turns out that this is a particular colour form occasionally seen in male harriers especially on the continent.
By not looking like a male the bird avoids attracting attention to itself by other more aggressive males.
In effect it is "cross-dressing".
The females don't seem to mind though, in 2011 this particular male supported two separate females, one at Radipole and one at Lodmoor!
Now some slowed-down footage of it taking off and hunting over the lake.
The female of the pair has been about for several weeks now.
Female marsh harriers are always darker than the males but this bird has an unusually large amount of yellow colouring around the head and shoulders.
Here's some more film of it hunting from last December.
And now the male again from May 2012 (it has been at Radipole since 2008).
Finally an extended sequence showing several different birds from earlier in 2012, all at half normal speed.
Some interesting bits of harrier optimal hunting strategy here, especially towards the end.
The bird in this sequence has been spending a lot of time in slow flappy flight low over the reeds at the back of the reserve.
This is presumably to scare up any birds that are in the reeds or on the water here.
Then the bird moves towards the roadside and gains height making itself very obvious to the ducks on the lake just in front of the hide where I was sitting with the camera.
Then it suddenly accelerates and flies low straight towards the camera.
The ducks, having got used to seeing the harrier flapping around a safe distance away are caught by surprise and the harrier very nearly catches a teal.