Jim, do you know this website? http://www.hawk-conservancy.org/index.asp
I record kestrels on their site, and get e-letters and info etc.
No, I didn't I'll do that too. We don't get Kestrels in the garden but do get a male and female sparrow hawk in very regularly, there's always a pile of feathers somewhere. The bird feeder has more than one meaning here.
I'm glad my dogs are big Jack Russles though.
Clueless Gardener and Fariy Gilrl, thanks. I know what you mean FG. I did only see it from the side and it had its wings pulled back. It was a big bird but because it was in profile I couldn't really gauge exactly how big, just nose to tail. I'd really not wish it to be an eagle but however I feel won't change what it was or wasn't it's really only my curiosity that I want to satisfy. But how great an achievement for Durham Wildlife Trust would it be if it really were an eagle? I'm pretty sure it wasn't a sea eagle though, they've got beaks like Dodo's.
Seing this photo though makes me feel more accepting that it was an eagle
The wings weren't in a very different position to this either. Its legs were tucked up so I didn't see them. Looking at the Hen Harriers I can't help feeling they look too small. And it doesn't have to have been a wild bird or/and it could have been swept well away from home with all the bad weather we had.
I know what you mean about curiosity Jim. Just nice to know what it is. The big difference with eagles in flight is the wingspan but it'd be hard to gauge if you don't have another bird to compare it with at the time. Perhaps you'll get another chance to see it.
If it was larger than a harrier could it have been a buzzard ?
They're a pretty impressive bird, people do mistake them for golden eagles - but a golden eagle's wingspan is around two metres - pretty much like having a light plane overhead!
Hi hollie - how is the new house/garden?
Thanks all, I did consider buzzard, I looked at anything I could think of because 'Eagle' sounded so ridiculous, but the colour is the one thing that keeps me coming back to an Eagle and the Hen Harriers look too light, weight-wise and the colour isn't solid like the bird I saw. So hard to gauge the size, it wasn't that far away from me, about 20 ft at the most, it was slow in the air, it didn't move a wing at all except to bank around the next doors bungalow and all the time looking left to right, scanning the ground.
If only I'd have jumped out of my seat to see it fly away and get a different view of it. The only time I saw anything but the profile was when it banked slightly as it went over the neighbours garden and behind the tree. I can't help feeling the speed of it moving gives a hint of the size. Though in moments like that time slows down doesn't it?
Verdun, did you mean with a handler? You had me excited for second.
I suppose I'll never know unless I hear of someone else seeing it. Well thanks so much everyone for your suggestions and comments I really appreciate it and I feel I've learned a bit more about birds of prey and will join the RSPB.