Just as we were approaching the lay-by that has proved fruitful for bird watching in the past, we drove under some branches and noticed a bit of commotion. There were people with binoculars watching a large sedentary bird of prey over our heads.
We pulled in when it was safe to do so, but by the time we had parked, the bird had flown off. The people with binoculars told us that it was a Black Kite, and that it had made several appearances in the area. We were pretty excited!
Red Kites were under severe threat when I was growing up. By the time we moved to Wales some 25 years ago, the trend was just beginning to swing back in favour of these majestic birds. We even had one flying over our house, high above Swansea Bay.
|Black Kite (Milvus migrans)|
Back in 2010, I heard that there was a Black Kite over Gigrin Farm in Ceredigion, but I did not have the chance to see it.
I had only ever seen one of these birds in captivity (see photo above), until yesterday. If only I had had my camera poised and ready!
The Kite was not the only bird of prey out and about. I just managed to take a quick photo of this Kestrel who perched for a short time, high up on a bare branch:
We drove on a little, and as we did so, a huge white sweep-of-a-bird flew on ahead of us down the road. It was, of course, a Barn Owl.
We pulled in safely and watched it quartering an expanse of marshy field. The light was fading fast by this time, and the bird stayed at a distance from the road.
David took this photo below, which is definitely the best!
We may have had wonderful Red Kite sightings in Wales, but we rarely saw owls. Suffolk seems a good place for them: there is a lovely photo of a Short-eared Owl on the shingle at Felixstowe here (scroll to Monday 16 November) on the Suffolk Birding with BINS blog. John Richardson (of Old Man Minsmere blog) has terrific photos of Short-eared owls here. Owls - what magnificent birds!