Godmersham - 0930hrs - cold, dry, sunny - A cracking winters day for a trip off the Marsh with CP and MH to view the churchyard Hawfinches. However, despite the clear blue skies and bright sunshine we could only muster brief views of two birds in trees outside the church, in contrast to last week when up to 20 were noted hereabouts. There were plenty of other species on offer though, many in full song such as Mistle and Song Thrushes, plus Marsh, Coal and Long-tailed Tits, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Jay and Buzzard.
North Downs - We then moved onto a downland viewpoint to scan for soaring raptors. With the morning wearing on and warm sunshine forcing draughts of air off the bare farmland into the ether conditions were ripe for a decent count, but even we were surprised at the numbers of birds of prey on the wing. During the course of an hour we totalled up to 25 Common Buzzards airborne at any one sweep of the optics, including a `kettle` of 13 and one near pure white individual perched atop a tree. Best of all though was up to four Red Kites, one of which soared virtually overhead, plus four Sparrowhawks and three Kestrels. While all this was going on, Skylarks were constantly in view and singing over the arableland, while Yellowhammer, Linnet, Meadow Pipit and Red-legged Partridge were also noted.
More often than not on this blog I`m moaning about the loss of this bird or that, but at least the raptors are faring well. I couldn't have imagined seeing such numbers even 20 years ago.