After the rain in July, summer at last. The first weekend found us in Oxfordshire, where Red Kites are now as numerous as Buzzards are in Devon (well, perhaps not quite but in the 11 years we have been visiting in the Wallingford-Henley area, what was once rare is now commonplace. Nonetheless, the sight of one of these magnificent raptors is still exciting, even if there is something unreal about sitting in a suburban garden in the early evening watching one circling above. Apparently Red Kites are developing a taste for cooked bacon scraps. Closer to home, we have been out on Mardon, round the Hennock reservoirs and on Dartmoor but principally to walk, rather that watch birds. Even so, the last Bank Holiday of summer found us on Great Trowlesworthy Tor, watching Ravens. August is the month that sees the summer migrants leave, and there are far fewer birds on the moor, so walking it is.
Saturday 4 August Hot and bright sun
En route from Twyford: Red Kite (at least 6, close to the road at Marlow and again at Christmas Common), Buzzard.
Otmoor (11.00 - 2.00): in the field by the gate, 4 Brown Hares, Goldfinches, 60+ Crows, Lapwing (200+) with some Starlings in among them: lifting off and settling down, Herons (3 in the trees next to the field in which the Lapwings were), Canada Geese (80+ in a number of loose skeins, flying across the reserve),Coots (adults and juveniles) in front of the hides, Mute Swans and cygnets, Mallard and ducklings, Reed Bunting, Willow Warbler, Kestrels (4+), Red Kite, Tufted Ducks, Great Crested Grebes (2 and a juvenile), Cormorants (on the water and in the trees), Marsh Harrier (too big for a Kestrel or Hobby, and not a Buzzard), Chaffinch (sadly not a Bullfinch), Grey Partridge.
Bank Holiday Monday 27 August Hot and sunny, some haze
Out from the Scout Hut to Great Trowlesworthy Tor, Hen Tor and back across the Plym (11.30 - 3.30): Meadow Pipits and Larks in family groups in the bracken; we watched a pair of Ravens above the Plym as we crossed towards Great Trowlesworthy and on the Tor we watched the same pair on the ground, close by, Owl pellets (? again) on the Tor; possibly a Raven's nest at Hen Tor (see my Flickr photograph http://www.flickr.com/photos/crosstreeparents/ ), and then watching two pairs of Buzzards from the top of Hen Tor as they soared above the Plym; Crows; a pair of Wheatears; a Sparrowhawk hunting above the bracken. And lizards and Beautiful Demoiselles along the way.