Family commitments away meant vacating my London patches this weekend, but as we headed west along the M40 birds inevitably loomed large on the Chiltern escarpment - literally. Red Kites are now an inescapable sight along this stretch of motorway, especially in the vicinity of High Wycombe; the challenge is not in seeing one, but in seeing how many you can count. This morning's tally was an impressive 18, in contrast to a single Common Buzzard and three Kestrels between London and Evesham, and a Raven in west Oxfordshire. Reintroduced or not, who would ever have thought that Red Kites would become such a commonplace sight in England?
From south Worcestershire we headed to Bath, getting notice via the pager just too late of an Iceland Gull in a field at Bishop's Cleeve; sod's law. On the return journey a pit stop in the area proved fruitless, but two ploughed fields north-west of the village were teeming with Fieldfares. A quick head count put the total at somewhere around 1,000 birds, perhaps the largest non-migratory gathering I've seen 'on the deck', and among them a Redwing or two, a few Blackbirds and a squadron of Starlings. It was too dark for a recount of the kites on the drive home, but two Common Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk upped the overall raptor tally.