I thought I’d write up my account of the Honey Buzzards I saw here at the coast between Langdon Hole and the South Foreland Valley. Most birds seen in the same kind of weather conditions and appearing to come either directly in off the sea or along the coast and inland. The first of the year on the 22nd May (perhaps later than it could have been as I was working in Scotland early May) and the last I saw was a Juvenile on the 11th Sept. It seemed to be a good year across the UK for the species in general. I saw 8 of the 9 birds recorded here. Clink on links to see more photos of each bird.
The First of the year for me was this dark/rufous female at st Margrets on the 22nd May
The Next was a more distant pale phase male, the only male I saw at the coast this season, which arrived at st Margarets and moved North on the 26th May.
In between this bird and the following individuals a dark phase female was seen by both Colin J and Mark K between South Foreland and Langdon on the 15th June, I was away with work but it seems this period was very good for HBs in south Kent with multiple individuals seen at Dungeness and Samphire Hoe.
Next up here at the patch were a trio of females on the 28th June during a very hot period both on the continent and over here too. All 3 birds arrived over the space of an hour in favourable weather but quite a later date and presumably failed/non breeders. Each bird circled over the valley and moved loosely North. The first was characterised by the mostly unmarked coverts
The next bird came in nearly an hour later, a similarly intermediate female but with barred underwing coverts. Heat haze can be a real problem photographing birds out to sea on hot days.
The third and final bird of the day came in/along the cliffs just after, a darker bird than the previous two
This concludes what I consider the ‘spring birds’ for me this year. Honey Buzzards do get seen here in July occasionally but i didn’t see one until the 13th of August (below) another female which I picked up coming in off the sea over Langdon hole, the bird tracked North West and came right over head. Perhaps it had been out over the channel, having headed out earlier in the morning and came in rather than committing to the crossing.
5 days later (18th August) and this dark female flew East over the South foreland valley, right over head. Perhaps it had roosted in Top wood as it was only just above tree height. The bird continued North East along the coast towards Deal.
The final Honey Buzzard of the year for me was this dark phase juvenile on the 11th september which soared around South Foreland and headed West over the farm, the first Juvenile I’ve seen here.
Thats all for the birds I saw whist on the patch. I did however also stumble upon a female bird inland and observed it many times between the 30th June and early September, This was at a previously unknown site for birds during the summer, much interesting behaviour was observed although no confirmed breeding.
The same bird below seen sparring with a Red Kite.
Lets see what the 2023 season brings!