Safari Britain, 30 May 2010

We’ve only seen Red Kite on one previous walk for Safari Britain, but the upturn in sightings over recent weeks across the east Downland put it high on the list of possible sightings for this, the first bird walk of 2010.

And so, while we were still drinking tea at the campsite, a Red Kite drifted through heading West, pursued by a mob of crows. A good omen for the summer’s birding, perhaps.

Also seen at the campsite: four Mistle Thrushes, a Treecreeper and a hunting Kestrel – the latter having to do no work other than angle itself into the stiff breeze and balance with its tail.

And a bird thermalling high over the campsite that initially had me stumped turned out to be a Cormorant.

A walk to Tilton Bostal and back started with plenty of Chaffinches, giving all their various calls, plus Robin, Blackbird and Blackcap in the treeline.

Along the base of the escarpment, several Meadow Pipits displayed and Whitethroats chattered, and a loose group of Linnets from their usual scrubby spot in the corner of a game cover field.

We didn’t come across the kite again before I left the campsite, but approaching Tilton there was a collection of birds of prey in the air: another Red Kite (or the same?) a circling pair of Hobbies and briefly a third, plus Common Buzzard.

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