Saturday, 17 February 2018

VP Red Kite and Raven

Yesterday morning I was out at one of my wintering bird survey plots on some Lancashire mossland carrying out a Vantage Point (VP) and transect survey. It was a lovely clear day, for a change, with a light southwesterly wind and Gail had joined me for a bit of fresh air and exercise. Gail does occasionally join me and in addition to providing me with some most welcome company, another pairs of eyes is useful. She is very good at picking birds up at a distance, even though she might not be able to identify them, and sometimes gets on birds before me! I had quipped on Facebook yesterday that it was a belated Valentine's Day treat for her, but in reality the treat was the sighting of a Red Kite.

Anthony McGeehan in his book 'Birds Through Irish Eyes' says Red Kites are big, lanky basketball players. Gangly at rest, with long limbs and a loping gait, launched into flight they exude elegance and agility. They are ballet on wings. The forked tail swivels freely and operates independently of wing hands that arch and thrust forwards. How can a raptor the size of a lumbering Buzzard be so graceful? And lumbering Buzzard is what I first thought when I picked up the Red Kite. It was a dot in the distance and I thought I would have a look at it when it got closer as I was busy recording some singing Skylarks on the map. I then looked up again and Gail said "what's that"?, and I said "oh it's a Buzzard, I mean Red Kite"! This lanky basketball player of a bird slowly made it's way past us and headed southwest across the moss. Where was my camera? In the fecking car!

Not this mornings Red Kite, obviously, but one of many we saw in Dumfries
and Galloway a few years ago! 

Ravens and Red Kites are certainly seen more often in Lancashire now and indeed in the lowland areas of  Lancashire. The Raven is far more common than Red Kite, and is making a come back due to decreased persecution from game keepers, though this still goes on in the uplands. This morning we had a calling Raven heading north.

Out on some recently tilled land a group of Thrushes and Starlings were feeding, very probably, on invertebrates brought closer to the surface by agricultural activity; six Mistle Thrushes, 40 Fieldfares and 15 Starlings made up the throng. In addition to the Thrush ensemble 24 Stock Doves was a reasonable count alongside larger numbers of Woodpigeons.

A large finch flock was still present on the moss, and has been all winter, and we recorded 253 Linnets and 52 Goldfinches! Two Kestrels, two Buzzards (including the leucistic bird) and a female Sparrowhawk played mayhem with the finches continually putting them up. A lack of Pink-footed Geese was notable, but that didn't detract from a very pleasant morning spent surveying with my bestest bud, her indoors! I have to say that as Gail reads my blog!

The forecast is half decent for tomorrow, so I will get out somewhere at the Obs, and at last it is getting light earlier. You can't beat early mornings!

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