Thursday, 1 April 2010

Lesser Kestrel Dip

Sunday afternoon, a Lesser Kestrel was found just outside Minsemere. Some of the Amwell guys were just up the road and got fantastic views of it on some wires before it flew off onto Westleton Heath where it remained. Views have been very distant to put it mildly, but despite the generally poor weather it has showed fairly reliably.
I decided not to wait until the Easter break and went this morning. The weather when I arrived just before nine was a lot different to what it had been, sunny but with a strong westerly wind. The small but growing crowd was a bit despondent as the bird had not been seen- a Great Grey Shrike first thing not exactly making up for it.
First decent bird I saw was a Woodlark-one of several flying around which gave very nice scope views when on the deck. A few Dartford Warblers flitting around was nice to see too. A few distant Kestrel specks were all we had of birds of prey for a while, apart from the usual Minsmere Marsh Harriers, but at about ten, a male Hen Harrier was seen distantly to the south. Plenty of Sparrowhawks and sightings of Kestrel then ensued.
One Kestrel which flew out of the woods towards us looked promising at first, but unfortunately turned out to be a Common, as did another at 1115 which many were convinced was a Lesser despite a huge moustachial stripe and barred underwings (which many said were gleaming white!). A lot of desperate birders here today. These birds spent much of the time hunting north of us whereas the Lesser has always been close to the trees to the south.
One or two Red Kites were nice to see, but the best bird was a huge female Goshawk which showed very well.
The wind gradually picked up during the day, and despite the sunshine it got colder, and with the windchill, I was only able to last until one.
Only lifer (of sorts) was Paul Heiney the TV presenter from Countryfile who I passed as I was heading to the car.

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