Worcestershire Record Issue 16 pp. 7-8
Friday 6th June 2003 began unpromisingly as had been forecast. However, the afternoon brightened up becoming quite warm at around 23°C and looming storm clouds seemed to break up.
Recent weeks had rendered the Cotswold skies somewhat devoid of Buzzard activity, the birds becoming involved with nesting duties, so a large soaring bird at 15.07 hrs over Fish Hill fields, (SP 110377), caught my eye as I drove by. It was immediately recognisable as a Red Kite by its attitude of flight, long slightly drooped wings and a frantically twisting long, forked tail. On my return journey at 15.20 hrs the bird was still present, this time patrolling at a lower height.
The following week I learned of another Red Kite sighting over Evesham Road, Broadway with four witnesses. The bird appeared to be heading in the general direction of Bredon Hill, which ties in with the popular assumption that one unpaired Kite is wandering around the region looking for a mate. I also learned of two Red Kites being seen from a birder’s garden in Longborough, Gloucestershire, (roughly 11 kms southeast of Broadway).
My bird at Broadway could possibly have been recognised again by its moulted inner primaries, again tying in with a bird seen in the Bredon Hill area, I was unable to detect the presence of wing-tags this time. Local Birders and Worcestershire County Bird Recorder, Andy Warr, were all informed.
ELUSIVE LOCAL KITES REAPPEAR-TOGETHER AT LAST
Thursday 16th October 2003 was an extraordinary day. Temperatures were in the mid-teens, daylong blue sky and a chilly easterly blowing, perhaps bringing the promise of a few good migrants from the continent. Lunchtime felt like summer to the extent of seeing three Swallows over our house in Broadway, pushing south of course and several Butterflies still on the wing.
My daily deliveries during this particular afternoon took me to Sedgeberrow via Childswickham. Travelling towards Hinton Cross at 15.30 hrs I had the good fortune to spot a Red Kite soaring over a field at Old Leys Farm (SP 042399). Pulling over to watch, the bird dropped down low flying between farm buildings towards Smith Hill Plantation (SP 048398). On my return at 15.50 hrs the Kite was at the same spot, this time in company with a Buzzard. Feeling ecstatic with my find, I then learned on my arrival back at work in Broadway, that a lady had left a message for me claiming a sighting of two Red Kites also at Mount Pleasant. I was intrigued. Returning from Ashton-under-Hill again via Mount Pleasant at 17.00 hrs, I was in shock to discover two Red Kites patrolling above the canopy at Smith Hill Plantation. This was a long-awaited moment. A return visit in early evening with Christine and her brother Chris was disappointing with only a brief glimpse of one Kite going to roost in the deciduous wood at 18.15 hrs and a couple of Buzzards patrolling as the light faded all too rapidly.
BREAKFASTING BUZZARDS 25th September 2003
Driving through Snowshill at 08.15 hrs I noticed a gathering of five Common Buzzards on the ground, foraging in the tilled earth of a field adjacent to the road, (SP 101333). It was comical to see one of them run a short distance and then peck at the ground just like a thrush would. On my return at 09.00hrs at least three were still present.
There was a repeat performance at 08.30 hrs on 9th October when three Buzzards were again present in the same field, only this time two of them would lift off, glide a short distance and re-alight, saving on the leg work.
On a sunny frosty morning of 28th October as I followed another car up Broadway’s Snowshill Road, I watched with bated breath as a Buzzard feeding on a cock Pheasant corpse in the road, narrowly escaped a collision. Meanwhile on the other side of Snowshill village three feasting raptors foraged in the usual field among gulls and a wheeling flock of Golden Plovers.
BRUNCH FOR A BUZZARD? 6th January 2004
A Buzzard at rest on a sun-drenched, low tree perch, in the corner of an Ashton-under-Hill field, was staking out traditional hunting grounds that Christine and I became familiar with between 1999 and 2001. Today’s bird was about to indulge in elevenses as I pulled over to watch on my return journey. Unaware of my presence, parked on the side of the road opposite, the Buzzard now on the ground picked up a small rodent and gulped it down wholesale. It then flapped up on to the wooden fence, ruffled its feathers and about-faced. At this point I departed carefully to leave it in peace.
|Buzzard - Drawn by Mark Turner ©||B.17 - Drawn by Mark Turner ©|
DISTINCTIVE NEW BUZZARD IN BROADWAY (referred to as B.17 hereafter)
During our round of duties, wardening Worcestershire Wildlife Trust’s Broadway Gravel Pit Nature Reserve, (SP087379), at 10.00 hrs on 12th October 2003, my brother-in-law and I discovered a pale morph juvenile Common Buzzard coming low across the Childswickham Road from the disused railway. This striking raptor was extensively white below and the upper wing coverts were a cold whitish-grey, in contrast with the dark primaries and secondaries. Minimal underside markings included small dark flank-patches and isolated carpal-crescents. From below it had the usual dark primary-tips and trailing edge to the wings, but even the underwing secondaries were white. The bird, which looked like it belonged in the Siberian countryside, flew on towards West End Road/Broadway Coppice area.
A visit to Broadway Waterworks late morning on 19th October 2003 provided an opportunity to see B.17 once again. Soaring locally northwest of the site, the bird was no more than a kilometre from the first sighting seven days previous. Today it looked dramatic against the darkening sky as I pointed it out to birding pal Darren Mason.
Driving out of Broadway along the Cheltenham Road on 22nd October 2003, I was delighted to see the “great white hawk” in the middle of a field next to the West End junction, (SP088373). Looking like a large gull, I could clearly see the all white head, neck, breast and belly. Obviously alert and nervous the bird took flight, finally to be moved on by a hounding Magpie towards Court Farm. I was equally pleased to find B.17 in the same field almost a month on, 20th November at 09.05 hrs. I had not been able to catch up with this wonderful creature to study it more closely due to other commitments and hoped the bird would settle in this traditional Buzzard haunt for good. If B.17 had been born to the adult white morph Buzzard that I discovered here in August 2001 then I might be in with a chance to get acquainted.
Once again, on 21st November 2003, B.17 was in the usual spot at 09.50 hrs. From 09.30 hrs on 23rd November I purposely set out to look for B.17 though admittedly during poor conditions. A thin mist hung around Broadway Coppice, the air was cold and the sky was grey, but there was no wind. A Buzzard was hanging around B.17’s field, but it wasn’t my bird. This one sported a neat breast shield, the usual white U-band and pale brown flanks. Faint barring was visible on the white underside feathering. These plumage characters suggest a young adult. There was no sign of any further Buzzard activity here on this occasion.
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