With adjusted restrictions on how many miles can be travelled in England, I took 2 days off work to give the Kent coast a blast before May disappears completely. I’ve had a few bits and pieces at Langdon Hole, but the highlight of my brief trips was finding a first summer female Red footed Falcon at Oare marshes on the 20th.
It hasn’t really happened to me before, but I was actually out there looking for a Red foot! I had even commented to LP the night before that I’d rather find a female. It’s not strictly a well known site for Red footed Falcon (compared to Stodmarsh, Grove Ferry etc) and apparently is only the second record for the site, and first for 30 years, but I picked up this bird whilst watching Hobbies hawking over the marsh almost a km to the west of the car park.
It was a silhouette only at first, but whilst watching these hobbies I noticed one of them briefly hover and got that ADRENALINE!!!! hit. It was maybe 20 seconds before I could see any colour definition on it but despite being distant it was obvious I’d just found a female Red foot.
As you can probably tell from the pics the bird stayed fairly distant and would frequently disappear high over the Swale, accompanied by 2 hobbies only to be picked up 20 mins later over head. It also alighted on the deck for 5 mins before anyone arrived.
I put the news out and stayed for a few hours. Meanwhile a small crowd of socially distanced Kent birders had assembled and the bird showed beautifully, perched on a big pile of sticks. The following footage is from Murray W, filmed through his scope. Its so nice to have some footage – I’d recommend it for a bird you’re invested in and want to relive! I’ve not stopped watching it since.
My other Kent trips were only slightly less exciting, with the thrill of getting ‘up and out early’ I felt very optimistic and couldn’t stop grinning.
Many Skylarks, Corn buntings and yellow Hammers were in song in the (National Trust, very well managed) fields above Langdon Hole. A couple of yellow wagtails west and a late (or early) siskin flew over with a trickle of swallows in off and moving along the coast.
Many lesser whitethroats were also in song at every other hawthorn.
Apparently NW winds are quite good in the area and along with 2 Red kites, that tracked east along the headland, I picked up this Osprey that came in off and headed north, a site tick for me!
Another over due site tick, though less surprising, were these vocal Med gulls that flew west over the port of Dover.
This late migrant White wagtail stopped off briefly to feed among the ponies; striking head pattern with reduced black about the face and white throat, reminiscent of some eastern Albas, but could well be aberrancy. Interesting date for a white wag on the South coast though.
The ‘secondary highlight’ was picking up this Black Kite over Oare marshes on the 17th en route back to London after the Hole. Apparently one had been seen the day before so likely the same, but was still great to watch it through the scope across the entire horizon and disappear to the NW. Excuse the BOC photo, looks better than a handful of pixels in an edited image.
I almost forgot, I also had an Osprey fly over me up the road from home at Ponder’s End on the 14th – 2 in less than a week! An exciting few days at a bizarre time.