Kites, Ravens and other raptors of the Broadway, Worcestershire, area, March to August 2014
Mark Turner & Christine Turner
Two Kites take up residence in the Broadway area; Ravens enjoy breeding successes; Peregrines raise young. The grapevine is murmuring!
References to Kite hereafter means Red Kite Milvus milvus and Buzzard the Common Buzzard Buteo buteo.
30th March. 2 Kites with high wheeling Buzzards during the afternoon at Bourton-on-the-Hill/Batsford Park, SP1833.
1st April. One Kite circling low over Evesham Road, Broadway, SP086385, mid-afternoon.
2nd April. Two Kites flying to the escarpment via Leamington Road, Broadway, SP100377-108379, late afternoon.
3rd April. Two Kites sought woodland refuge in fog late afternoon, SP108379.
21st April. One Kite southwest of Broadway Gravel Pit in a thermal stack also comprised of 1 Sparrowhawk (uppermost bird) and 5 Buzzards, SP085377.
28th April. Two Kites (single birds) going southwest passed Broadway Gravel Pit, SP087379.
30th April. One Kite seen from home at Bridgemans Close, SP102380, soaring high over Bibsworth/Sandscroft/escarpment fields, had symmetrical moult of inner primaries.
2nd May. One Kite west of Broadway Gravel Pit hanging aloft before a mobbing by corvids forced it down.
4th May. Seen from back garden at home one Kite high overhead was gliding very slowly south.
5th May. One Kite high above Broadway Gravel Pit with a Buzzard after midday.
12th May. One Kite southwest of Broadway Gravel Pit over allotments.
13th May. One moulting Kite swooping low around housing estates of Lime Tree/Bibsworth/Sandscroft Avenues, SP102380, at 15.40 hrs and picking up a mobbing by three Jackdaws. As is often the case an accompanying Buzzard was nearby.
16th May. One moulting Kite at 18.20 hrs circling over towards the village bypass to the northeast of home in Bridgemans Close.
17th May. One non-moulting Kite seen from home again to the west at 16.15 hrs. This was followed by a Peregrine at 17.20 hrs circling high to the west drifting off north.
2nd June. One Kite after midday circling over allotment fields to the west of Broadway Gravel Pit mobbed by a Jackdaw.
5th June. One Kite just after mid-morning again over the allotments opposite Broadway Gravel Pit.
19th June. One Kite moulting outer primaries and tail, briefly in company with a Buzzard hung around over Sandscroft and Bibsworth Avenues then headed off southeast just after 15.30 hrs.
1st July. Watching with increasing excitement from our back garden from 14.00 hrs, raptor activity intensified in a short space of time. Two low-circling Buzzards were soon followed by a Kite from the direction of Leamington Road and the adjacent infants’ school. The Kite’s central tail feathers were missing. There then came an adult Peregrine from the same direction which reached us overhead before turning and speeding away. Buzzard numbers reached five or six plus a female Sparrowhawk carrying prey.
Earlier during the morning we were treated to a prey-carrying Peregrine at Ford, Gloucestershire, and a pale form Buzzard at Broadway Tower plus a bonus of two juvenile Ravens in a tilled field.
7th July. One Kite at 08.30 hrs seen from home circled to the north then off towards the escarpment. Also late morning seen from Broadway Gravel Pit, One Kite to the south over the village.
8th July. One un-moulted Kite to the west of Broadway Gravel Pit at 10.30 hrs.
27th July, observing from home. After a fresher than usual start from 10.30 hrs it was warming up noticeably and a build up of cloud evidently produced thermalling opportunities for local birds. Small groups of Ravens and Buzzards began to appear three or four birds at a time, but very quickly on the scene there appeared an adult Peregrine fairly low over our estate soaring up virtually overhead then drifting back towards the escarpment to the east. On reaching the hill it stooped on an emerging Buzzard from above before circling up ever higher to join its mate. Christine’s superior hearing picked out contact calling between the falcons.
After a short space of time we suddenly had a return flypast by a Peregrine and I am sure the attraction here is a healthy population of Swifts and House Martins let alone Jackdaws that number 40 or 50 pre-roost. The highly entertaining Swifts and Martins are great for alerting us to the presence of a threat, though occasionally it may just be patrolling Jackdaws or Magpies. Interestingly I’ve noticed Swifts will chase and mob individual Jackdaws innocently passing through the neighbourhood.
A little after 13.00 hrs I noticed a Buzzard in a very assertive display over hillside woodland territory (again observed from our garden), it was undulating, stalling, then plunging earthward. At this time of year it is said to be a sign of parent birds attending well-grown young and woe betide any bird or anyone for that matter coming near. Whether the Buzzard was responding to the Peregrine presence I don’t know, but the falcons were still patrolling at this time. Around 13.30 hrs one of the adult falcons drifted away from the ridge to soar over our estate again before returning quite hastily.
On a general note since Peregrines have become year round residents and breeding successfully, I have noticed a decrease in sightings of Sparrowhawks, Kestrels and Hobbies locally. Whether there is a connection between these facts is open to discussion, but certainly I have seen Sparrowhawks and Kestrels mainly during earlier and later hours than for Peregrine; perhaps avoidance for them is the best policy. However, I have a greater concern that Sparrowhawks are genuinely in decline, but find it difficult to come up with a reason other than possible persecution.
Hobbies have been a real success story, but 2014 has not been as we have come to expect in recent years from these local Hirundine hunters. However, back to the afternoon of Sunday 27th July and at 15.20 hrs patience was rewarded. From my back garden viewpoint a Hobby travelling west away from the escarpment was in hot pursuit of a singled-out House Martin. This unsuccessful attempt was followed by the slender falcon regaining height and continuing on towards the village centre.
The next Peregrine flypast was no less awesome just twenty minutes later passing directly overhead whilst three Buzzards hanging into the wind over the hillside wood looked more like Lancaster bombers by comparison. The Peregrine pair appeared together to the west of my position at 15.55 hrs gliding round and round with wings held absolutely flat.
28th July. At 15.15 hrs it was the turn of the Buzzards to show off in our airspace. Having seen nothing raptor-wise I found myself distracted by a glider using a thermal directly overhead, beneath a bank of storm cloud. Before many minutes had passed three Buzzards latched onto the same thermal beneath the glider and then with primaries angled rearward all three birds filed away in a line towards the wooded hill to the east. However, the one at the tail-end picked up speed and launched an attack on the others. This was never going to be a happy alliance at this time of year; a territory holding adult will always be on the look out for approaching intruders.
At long last 15.50 hrs brought a female Sparrowhawk from the south heading in a straight line over the avenues in a very slow glide with occasional wing flicks to maintain momentum. Turning east over arable fields the hawk picked up speed in a shallow angled descent.
30th July. A brief note that our Peregrine pair were hunting high over Sandscroft Avenue and the arable field adjacent to the bypass around 17.00 hrs.
31st July. Also briefly, a note on a soaring and half-barrel rolling Raven projecting its far-carrying foghorn-like croak high above the residential estate and Broadway Hill late morning.
1st August. We were once again treated to a back garden flypast by a Hobby casually checking out the Avenue’s House Martins at 09.40 hrs. It seems odd how as Kite watching waned all else are coming to the fore, but I feel confident we haven’t seen the last of the great fork-tailed ones. To be continued.
01. Peregrine by Mark Turner.