Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Birding Rules

Rule No. 1 - Always carry your bins, scope and camera, no matter what.  Rule No. 2 - If ever in doubt, refer to Rule No. 1.  Rule No. 3?

Called in for 10 minutes to Wessie at 3:10pm today, waders come and waders go and waders rarely stay, so many and frequent visits are a good tactic.

This afternoon, three Ringed Plovers and little all else.  Best check the tiny flash, better to be safe than sorry.  As I turned to walk north, a large, brown raptor with paler patches on the underwing drifted in from the NE and my instinct was a Common Buzzard.  There was a stiff westerly breeze that was putting the bird through its paces as it continued inbound, and visible next was a triangular tail.  F*ck me, Red Kite thinks I as I raised the bins.  And duly fired off a text to the locals to get some corroboration.

And here's where Rule No. 3 appears - when having been to a wedding over the weekend, and both main and reserve camera battery are flat, charge both up asap.

Reaching for the camera, no reaction to the on/off switch.  And an immediate recollection of two useless batteries.  Double f*ck!!

The bird was not too distant, 40 yards or so, and not too high either.  It turned in the wind to go slowly north and gaining height as it did.

Hmmmm, very dark brown for a Red Kite - almost Marsh Harrier-like, flat, chocolatey brown on the upper wings and body, save for some slightly lighter brown across the shoulders.  And the body, too, was very dark and without features.  The underwings were also relatively dark and featureless.  Could it be a Black Kite?  Certainly no dark red, nor blue-ish head nor lighter patches I would have expected in a Red.

Called the Guvnor and described my thoughts.  Suffice to say he jumped into his car and arrived to see it high and drifting west.  Nothing he saw affected my i/d.  After making a few rough notes, comparison with photos on Iris leave me satisfied with what this bird was.

Doubtless it will attract some learned opinion, no bad thing, and had my camera been charged up, there would have been some greater proof.  But I am happy enough (no choice really).

1 comment:

  1. I can think of lots of sarcastic comments but can only sympathise, was in that exact same situation in Aug 2011 when I saw what I thought was my first ever Black Kite over Whitley Bay but a picture taken by another onlooker showed me to be wrong. You can check out the pic at http://tug.com/blog/2011/08/15/01.html (its the top picture) and you will see that at another angle it could have been a Black or a Red Kite.

    Good spot btw (thats one we dont expect to catch you up on)