After not getting out yesterday due to a few hours gardening in the sunshine I was out of the house this morning at the late time of 8am. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the frost was just burning off the ground and I was optimistic that today something would be of note in the area. For a change I drove over to Shuart where I hoped there would be a few butterflies on the wing in the sunny sheltered areas. Despite having a good look around I drew a blank but surely any day now I will be seeing some. I walked on down to the sea before returning back to the car and driving to the raptor layby at Shuart where you have a good all round view of the area. Birds noted today were 4 Red legged Partridge, 2 Kestrel, 3 Sparrowhawk, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Great spotted Woodpecker, 2 Long tailed Tit, c60 Fieldfare, 1 Green Woodpecker, 4 Skylark, 2 Brambling in fields with c40 Chaffinch, 5 Reed Bunting, 1 Mute Swan, 4 Lapwing, 4 Meadow Pipit and 6 Redwing in the paddocks. There were 5 Linnet, 2 Pied Wagtail, 8 Turnstone, 2 Eider offshore, c40 Oystercatcher, c40 Sanderling, 31 Golden Plover, 1 Black Redstart near the stables and at 10am I was enjoying the sun looking for raptors. After weeks of rain, wind, sleet, snow etc It was a pleasure to be birding in summer conditions. No doubt it will rain for the next few days now! I was joined by Derek Smith where we set about trying to find a Red Kite. Birds we noted were 3 Marsh Harrier, 3 Common Buzzard, 2 Grey Heron, 1 Ring necked Parakeet, 2 adult Mediterranean Gull in ploughed fields with a few hundred Black headed Gulls and finally Derek picked up on a large distant raptor which turned out to be a cracking Red Kite (121). It flew a little nearer and gave good scope views but always remained high and my attempts at a few shots were quickly deleted as it looked like a dot on the back of the camera! Happy with this we then heard that the Common Crane had flown east from Grove Ferry a few minutes earlier so with a bit of luck/skill I started to scan the skies and almost immediately saw the Common Crane (122) circling up high. I think Derek thought I was joking when I said I had it but reality soon hit home when he got on to the bird as well. We watched it for a few minutes before it moved off north east towards Pegwell Bay. A brilliant few hours out in lovely weather and some good quality birds around. Hopefully the beginning of whats to come in the next few weeks!
Red legged Partridge