North Downs - dry, sunny, NW 2 - 0845 - 1200hrs - The day started in fine style with a stunning little Chiffchaff briefly singing in the garden birch tree just outside the kitchen window. Undoubtedly an over night migrant and a first for the garden, what a trill - I`m easily pleased! However, for a change of scene together with CP we headed north for a spot of raptor watching on the downs, the first time we`d been there for three years, for obvious reasons. The weather was perfect with blues skies and a light northerly airflow. Throughout the morning we were constantly serenaded by `larks ascending`, in the words of RVW, and the contrasting `yowing` of up to 50 Mediterranean Gulls soaring high overhead and feeding on surrounding fields alongside a hundred or more Common and Black-headed Gulls. Other overhead passerines during our watch included a flock of 20 Fieldfares, hundreds of corvids, 20 Blackbirds and a trickle of Yellowhammers, Pied Wagtails, Chaffinches and Redwings, plus at least five Ravens, several of which performed their spectacular tumbling display flights overhead. Non-passerines of note included 200 Woodpigeons, Red-legged Partridge, Stock Dove, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers.
And so to the main event. BOPs were in view throughout the morning with the first hour being the most productive with at least 20 Common Buzzards thermaling over the wooded countryside providing us with plenty of plumage variations to sift through; including one that had a stunning white rump akin to a ringtail harrier. Also, up to three Red Kites, five Sparrowhawks and three Kestrels making for a very pleasant morning`s birding indeed.