Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Back in the USS . . . A?

It took me back to my time in Florida this morning when I was entertained by a Red-tailed Hawk, which showed on no less than 11 occasions at various heights and distances, interacting with up to half a dozen kites and mobbed by crows.

It was early this morning when out the kitchen window I spied what looked like a buzzard going past being mobbed by a crow, but something about the way it flew (a few rapid wingbeats then short glide) made me take a second look through my bins. A very pale bird was all I could tell as it disappeared from view, but luckily it was back within a couple of minutes, this time without accompanying crow so at a more leisurely pace, and when I saw the very rufous uppertail as it turned, and faint crescent-like markings at the carpals, my thoughts turned to red-tailed hawk which were so common on  my visit to Florida a good few years back.
I kept an eye out as I was doing a bit of painting in the greenhouse this morning and after a few more brief and fairly distant views it came right overhead, and now in brilliant sunshine it looked almost translucent in the skies above.
Eventually by late morning it had been soaring with half a dozen kites, and even did a bit of hanging in the wind they are so famous for.

Red-tailed Hawk
A well-worn and badly photographed individual 

Didn't seem to have jesses attached but I doubt that
makes it a bird which has been blown
over the Atlantic.

A bit of social soaring

Young untagged red kite

Plenty of interaction between the kites this morning

A ragged-looking kite

Put a couple of buzzards, a sparrowhawk and a kestrel into the mix and not a bad morning's entertainment.
I know it's not a bona fide tick, but was great to watch all the same.

Strange thing is, someone posted a pic of two red kites making a food pass on twitter last night and a lady from the USA replied saying it looked like a kite and a red-tailed hawk, to which the reply was 'We don't get them in the UK'. So had to laugh when this happened this morning, an unbelievable coincidence. :-)

The raptivity (new word I've invented for raptor activity) continued this afternoon at Gibside, with 5 common buzzards, 4 red kites, female sparrowhawk and male kestrel all showing well over the fields by the playpark, one buzzard stooped into the field at one stage and grabbed something from the ground. Couldn't tell what it was but a red kite was certainly interested in it and chased the buzzard for a short while. Kite and buzzard pairs both displaying so a nice afternoon's raptor-watching as well.     

Also at Gibside, 4 sand martins, 1swallow, 2 singing chiffchaffs and drumming woodpecker. Good day all round.

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