Monday, 19 January 2009

Kites flying high




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.

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