Sunday, 27 October 2013

Crossbill hunting

27 October 2013

Bedgebury and Hemsted Forests

The weather today was bright and sunny first thing, although the wind was already blowing quite hard. After raking the leaves from the lawn and tidying the garden we set off to Bedgebury Forest for a walk. It was blustery and there were few birds along the rides. A couple of calling Crossbill could not be found and we were soon in the Pinetum. At the western end more Crossbill were heard and we soon tracked the noisy party down, getting some half decent views as the clung on to the top of the tall tree in the gale. All eight appeared to be Commons, though some had pretty large bills - are these birds from further east than we normally experience in the UK? A late Migrant Hawker was hunting along a bank in the sunshine and a Brimstone butterfly was very late.

We worked our way around the whole area finding a few Siskin, Redwing, Fieldfare and Mistle Thrush but no more Crossbill and then returned through the forest. The wind was picking up even more making for an interesting walk under the trees.

As the sun was still shining and Hemsted just up the road I decided to have a 'quick' look for Crossbills. After a brief but heavy shower I made my way to the Oak tree stake out and joined about 15 other birders. A couple of Common Crossbill were sheltering in the Oak but soon departed. Mandy joined me for a while and a flock of about 30 Common Crossbill flew in landing briefly in the pine trees. The male Two-barred Crossbill was quickly located and Mandy enjoyed great looks through the scope. Unfortunately a passing Kestrel spooked the flock and they flew off across the clearing and vanished. We waited for a further half hour. A few Redpoll and Siskin flew over and eventually a couple landed in view. The first was a clear Mealy Redpoll, then a Lesser arrived with a Siskin for company. 

After another shower Mandy walked back to the car and I stayed on. Shortly after a juvenile female Crossbill sp arrived in the Oak. It sat right at the top and called incessantly for about five minutes. The call was a Blackbird like 'Cluk - cluk', identical to the distinctive call of Parrot Crossbill on Xeno Canto, yet the bird, while large billed, just didn't convince as a Parrot, and most dismissed it perhaps too quickly - the bills get larger with age, so juvs will always be at the smaller end of the spectrum. As I discussed this with one of the other birders two more  female Crossbills flew into the tree and landed alongside - their calls suggested Parrot. One was obscured, but the other looked reasonably large billed. I moved position and got a view of the other female - surely a Parrot, it had a monster bill and the typical bull necked jizz of the species. Just as we started to grill it they took flight heading off as a threesome down the clearing. 

They landed halfway down in a small Birch tree and instantly four male birds flew down from the trees at the far end of the clearing, towards the car park. Even from distance they looked good. I grabbed my scope and sprinted down the track past a bemused crowd of birders who presumably had not seen them fly in. I quickly scoped them - Parrots! Seven birds in the group and the males were all stonking great monsters. I shouted to the other birders who soon joined me, then moved closer for a better look. They flicked down and gave great views in the small conifers before dropping to a puddle for a drink, then away to the back of the clearing. Awesome. Unfortunately I'd asked Mandy to take the camera back to the car because of the rain....doh! A great afternoon gaining more experience of these interesting birds.

I have been playing with my video clips and managed to extract some stills via screen shots. First here are some of the male Two-barred Crossbill from yesterday.

And here are some grabs of a couple of interesting looking female Crossbills also from yesterday. Not sure what to make of either. Questioned the first grey headed bird at the time, and tended toward Common for the latter, but interested in any informed opinions. Bizarrely the Parrots last friday and this afternoon were just so obvious - I do wonder if, as is often the case with subtle species, you have to try to make them the rarer species they aren't but if they are you just know it instantly. 

This big, round and quite grey headed bird showed a fairly large blunt tipped bill
and suggested Parrot at the time. However is the bill big enough? It certainly shows a
pretty chunky lower mandible, but some of the Commons show bigger bills than I'm
used to seeing, Eastern bird perhaps? It also shows the dark marking though the eye
and around the ear coverts that the Parrots tend to show. 
The more you look at Common Crossbills the more challenging they become, yet the Parrots are very obvious when you actually get one. This bird just has me confused? 
This adult female was seen with a male Common Crossbill. It appeared slightly larger with a deeper bill, but is it big enough? I called it a Common at the time, but if it is then this photo shows just how big billed some of these birds are. 

Saturday, 26 October 2013

More time with the crossbills

26 October 2013

Hemsted Forest, Sissinghurst

I decided to have another look at the crossbills in Hemsted today, hoping to get some better footage or photos of the Parrots. I expected there to be only a few birders here as the birds have been around for some time now, so was somewhat surprised to find nowhere to park and about 50 birders at the end of the clearing! 

A flock of Common Crossbill flew into the trees on the far side. I walked back down the path to get a better view, and immediately on looking through my scope saw the male Two-barred Crossbill. While I tried to get the camera set up the flock took flight and vanished over the trees. I returned to the Oak tree and waited, but after half an hour I decided to go for a walk around the forest with James Hunter. This produced nothing so I started to make my way back and bumped into Barry Wright. We wandered along the forest path only to find ourselves emerge under the Oak and beside the drinking pool just as the Crossbill flock flew in for a drink! We took cover hoping not to disturb the birds or the other birders. Fortunately the crossbill settled, especially as the Two-barred was with them. We got fantastic views as it sat in the Oak and flicked in above us before dropping down to the pool. Despite it being less than 3m away we dared not move into view and had to wait until the flock finished drinking before we walked quietly back the way we came. 

Male Two-barred Crossbill

As the light was quite dull I decided to shoot some video and captured a few sequences of COmmon Crossbills. One sequence of a rather large and grey headed female shows a bird with a pretty chunky bill, though not as immense as the Parrots last week, it does draw attention and the bird is noticeably larger than the male Common that landed alongside. These are tricky birds and I think I will be returning for more views when the weather improves.

I also managed to get a few sequences of the Two-barred Crossbill, though the wind made this quite tricky.



I returned to the clearing briefly hearing a few Common Crossbill over the woods. More views of the Two-barred Crossbill within the flock of about 25 Commons and several views of other flocks around the clearing, but no sign of any Parrots. Other birds seen included about 50 Redpoll which just would not settle in view and 35 Siskin. Redwing and Fieldfare also flew over regularly.

Big feet!

19 October 2013


I decided to have a check of another regular crossbill haunt - Bedgebury Forest. The weather was not ideal but I went anyway. I walked through the forest and into the Pinetum, arriving early and before anyone else. Once inside the park I soon heard the distinctive flight call of Common Crossbill and found three birds sat high in a very tall conifer. As the rain started to fall I scoped them to confirm they were just Commons. I found some cover on a raised bank to wait for the shower to pass. While here about 300 Redwing emerged from the wood opposite and flew overhead calling. The odd Fieldfare was mixed in. Checking the larches at the top of the hill I heard an approaching party of Crossbill that sounded quite loud and full in tone. I managed to see the flock, about 15 birds and they appeared to drop down, but I just could not relocate them anywhere. After another hour I walked back through the Forest seeing another 3 crossbill flyover, but seeing none in the trees. A frustrating morning.  

20 October 2013


started at the ARC pit checking the shallows in front of Hanson Hide. The juvenile Glossy Ibis was still present feeding around the islands at the back and giving nice scope views in the sunshine. There were large numbers of dabbling ducks, mainly Wigeon and Teal, with good numbers of Gadwall and a few Shoveler and Pintail. A couple of late Swallows flew north over the pools and 5 Bearded Tit 'pinged' from the small reedbed. Waders were represented by a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, 10 Dunlin, 2 Greenshank, 30 Golden Plover and 4 Common Snipe. A Water Rail screeched from the reedbed, but there was mo sign of yesterdays Jack Snipe. A walk around the Willow Trail produced a noisy flock of Long-tailed Tit and 4 Chiffchaff.

Glossy Ibis


I then drove down the beach road checking the roosting gull flocks before walking out to the patch. No unusual gulls were found. The strong wind made viewing difficult but the Patch hide provided adequate shelter so I set myself up and did a short sea watch. A juvenile Arctic Tern flew slowly along the shore, followed by 2 Sandwich Tern. A single dark phase juvenile Skua, presumably Arctic, appeared briefly off the point before landing again and at least 50 Gannet were feeding offshore. The patch held 7 stunning Little Gull, six of them adult, among the Common and Black-headed Gulls. Further scanning revealed 4 close Common Scoter and 2 Guillemot, but the big surprise came when I picked up two distant Divers off the point heading west. I initially assumed they were Red-throats and carried on scanning, but on my next sweep I found them again much closer. Their feet looked very large and caught my attention. I then realised they were Black-throated and both in superb summer plumage! I watched them pass by noting the black throats, white striped necks and white spotted shoulders. That was a real surprise.

With time passing I decided to drive back to the RSPB reserve, but only got to Kerton Road when a Police man in the road caused me to stop. He leaned down and pointing down the road said that a car was on fire and I'd have to go round via New Romney. As I could see the Fire Brigade coming toward me I suggested it might be quicker if I waited, so pulled over and watched with a few others as the small green Daihatsu burned on the side of the road. It took no more than five minutes for the fire to be put out and we were soon allowed past.

A couple of Great White Egret were feeding on the New Diggings as I drove by. On the reserve I found 2 black necked grebe , a juvenile Bar tailed Godwit, juvenile Little stint, a Ruff, 5 Common Snipe, 5 Dunlin, 3 Little and another Great White Egret. With the wind still howling I decided to call it a day and headed home.

Friday, 18 October 2013

What no Commons....

18 October 2013

Hemsted Forest

Since Wednesday morning there had been occasional reports from the clearing at Hemsted Forest of the male Two-barred Crossbill and one or two Parrot Crossbills. However work was full on and I had no chance to get back either before or after work and was planning a weekend attempt. However the weather forecast was looking increasingly dismal for Saturday and Sunday and Friday afternoon looked to provide the best chance. However a series of important meetings looked like running well into the evening. I'd all but given up hope and accepted I'd be putting in some wet hours in the woods, when at 15:30 I found myself with an opportunity to escape. The sun was still shining and if I could get through Maidstone I might just make it shortly after four leaving me about an hour and a half of light - not much, but it might be the best chance I had.

I pulled into the lay-by at 16:07, donned my wellies and coat and walked out towards the clearing. As I reached the brow of the hill I could see about 25 birders stood along the edge of the path. I desperately needed a pee so as the path criss crossed I turned left and found a suitable bush. Just as I was in the process a distinctive 'Chipping' call came from the trees above me. It sounded higher and finer than Common Crossbill and then the moment of truth - a series of nasal 'jjjrrrrrr' calls confirmed Two-barred Crossbill. I called to a guy walking down the path under the tree where the bird landed. It continued to call as I grabbed the camera and snapped a couple of quick shots, then watched it through the scope until it flew back into the woods. Then I did up my flies....

Male Two-barred Crossbill
Male Two-barred Crossbill
Not a bad start - first bird was the major rarity. I walked along the path passing a few familiar faces and joined Chris Gibbard. He said the Two-barred had shown well a couple of times, that several flocks of Common Crossbill had appeared and that a possible Parrot had been seen but only a few in the group had got it. A Bullfinch called and a Redpoll flew over. We stood chatting for about ten minutes when more crossbill calls came from the east, heading our way. A group of five birds came directly over us. Instantly they sounded different. A more hollow, round, 'Chup'. From my research earlier in the week I immediately thought Parrot. I got on the first bird in the flying group; it was huge and its head and bill massive - I shouted 'The first bird is a Parrot' and watched as it landed at the top of a fir tree on the western side of the clearing. I was quickly scoping the bird, it turned and revealed a bull-neck and a massive bill with whitish cutting edges. No question a Parrot - my first ever in Kent. As I got everyone else on it another crossbill jumped up next to it - a female Parrot. I worked down the tree - all five were Parrots, three males and two females!!!!

It was great watching them ripping pines cones from the branches, carrying them in their huge bills, holding them in their claws and pulling out the seeds. Clearly big, strong birds and typical Parrot behaviour (though Commons can also do this).

Male Parrot Crossbill (video grab) 
Male Parrot Crossbill (video grab)
The light was not great but I attempted to shoot some video footage through the scope. It is a bit shaky but in the absence of any photos to date provides the first published documentary evidence of Parrot Crossbills in Hemsted Forest.


We watched them for the next half an hour getting good scope views in the fading light. Eventually they took flight, heading SW over the clearing and could not be relocated. An amazing hours birding and I didn't even hear a Common Crossbill......

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Before work birding

16 October 2013

Hemsted Forest

Yesterday was one of those days, as a birder, I dread. Mid October after a series of north easterly winds and major arrivals of rare Siberian birds all down the East coast - and I'm hard at work in The City. Mid morning I returned to my desk to find two text messages in quick succession. The first read 'Howard Vaughan has just flushed a probable White's Thrush in the NE corner of Northdown Park, Margate'. As I drew breath, yes it did read WHITES THRUSH, I read the second message, which said 'Stephen Message has seen at least one Parrot Crossbill at Hemsted Forest'. This was almost too much, but I managed to refocus and get on with my very busy schedule.

As time ticked on and no further reports came through of either bird, things started to calm down, not that I could have done much about it. However I was working out of Maidstone on Wednesday and decided on a dawn assault on Hemsted. At this time of the year I would need a lot of luck and would have very limited time in half decent light, but he who dares and all that. I arrived just after dawn to find a very foggy scene across the clearing. I walked out finding the isolated Oak tree through the mist. Crossbills were heard several times to the north and east, a few flew over, but none stopped and few were even seen. A couple of flocks of Redwing, at least one Fieldfare and a Brambling flew over calling. After about half an hour and with time pressing I went for a short walk around one of the plantations. A flock of Siskin, two groups of Redwing, a Sparrowhawk and a brief flyover Hawfinch were the only birds seen and a large Alsatian tried his luck. I returned to the Oak as two more Crossbill flew overhead.

It was now 08:45 and I had to leave for work. With rain and wind forecast for the rest of the day there was no sign of either the Two-barred or Parrot Crossbills today. I'll have to cross my fingers until the weekend....

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


13 October 2013

North Norfolk

With heavy rain falling overnight and the wind picking up again from the NE we took a slow breakfast before driving out to Warham Greens. I hoped that the Pallas' Warbler would have stayed put due to the rain, and started with a slow walk up the eastern track. There were plenty of birds - Goldcrests, a Chiffchaff, a Blackcap, lots of Redwing, Song Thrush, Blackbird and of course Robins. A Woodcock flushed from the hedge and flew up the hill and half a dozen Hare ran around the field. Overhead the Golden Plover flock and some Skylark. However the wind made viewing much more difficult than yesterday and I reached the saltmarsh without finding the warbler. I checked the bushes along the seafront. As I waited along the back of the hedge out of the wind a short downpour produced a fall of Blackbirds, Robins, Song Thrushes, and a Ring Ouzel. A group of Goldcrest, maybe 15 in total, were feeding in the hedge with a couple of Chiffchaff and Blackcap. At least 15 Robins were feeding low down in the shelter of the hedge. I gently walked back towards the track and a small dark green warbler flicked out and flew across to the main bushes. I got my bins on it in flight and it showed two distinct wing bars on each wing - a Yellow-browed Warbler. However it vanished into the hedge and despite checking through the roving tit flock, Goldcrests and a Chiffchaff I could not relocate it. I walked back to the car. 

I decided that Wells Woods would provide shelter in the stiff breeze. I walked out to the Dell and spent about four hours checking everything. Again lots of birds and even more reports of RB Flys, Pallas', Hawfinch, Redstarts, Arctic Redpolls and possible Parrot Crossbills.

After much effort I eventually got a good but brief view of a Pallas' Warbler at the back of the Dell, watched a jumpy flock of about 80, mainly Mealy, Redpoll, had a brief view of a female Common Redstart sporting a large wing panel, and enjoyed the calls from the flock of about 500 Pink-footed Geese out on the fields. The highlight however was a super showy Tawny Owl that had clearly been bedraggled overnight and was sitting in the open drying off. 

While watching I found about 15 Chiffchaff, one of which was a very brownish tristis Siberian type, with most of the others being abietinus types, based on cold plumage tones, wing bars and call. Several Blackcap were seen and a couple of tit flocks contained many Goldcrest. Four Siskin included one very confiding bird, a Brambling in the hedge by the caravan park, many groups of Redpoll flying over, loads of Redwing and literally hundreds of Robins. I heard a distinct 'chacking' coming from a weedy patch beside the scrub, bit could not tease it out - possibly a Dusky Warbler, but inconclusive. As I searched for the Pallas a Treecreeper appeared close by on a Hawthorn and I managed to fire off a few shots on high ISO. It appeared very clean white underneath, with a big bold supercilium and cold toned plumage - perhaps a Northern European bird.

The Common Treecreeper - perhaps a Northern?
Despite checking about 1,000 Robins over the last three days I just could not find the hoped for Bluetail - it appeared at Warham next day. I thoroughly enjoyed the three days. The North Norfolk coast is such a wonderful wild landscape, so different to the many Kent sites I usually watch. 

Monday, 14 October 2013

halimodendri Central Asian Lesser Whitethroat and Great Grey Shrike

12 October 2013

North Norfolk

After an excellent Full English in Byford's we headed out into the field. The overnight forecast had predicted heavy rain all day, but it wasn't raining so we started back at Warham Greens. Parking at the end of the track we donned our wellies and walked the main track towards the sea. It was slow going due to the sheer number of birds. One of the big themes of the weekend was the amazing numbers of Robin. They were everywhere - oh how I wanted just one to be something different, but check as I might every last one revealed a red breast. There were also lots of Blackbirds, Redwings passing over, Chiffchaff (many cold plumaged, wing-barred abietinus types), Goldcrest, Blackcaps and Dunnocks. A few Blue and Great Tits were also feeding along the hedges and a few Chaffinch flew up from the track. At the far end we found 8 smart and rather noisy Brambling and a flock of 5 Redpoll flew in, the first with a very chesty call, but none stopped. Back at the concrete pad 2 Ring Ouzel flew out of the hedge and a smart Snow Bunting appeared on the path. Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Golden Plovers flying over completed an exciting scene.

Snow Bunting

I considered walking over to the eastern track, but in the end decided to try Burnham Overy Staithe. We parked on top of the hill and walked along the footpath to the sea wall then on to the Dunes. A Ring Ouzel was seen briefly in a hedgerow. As we arrived at the first bush a small pale warbler flicked into the air to catch a flying insect. I got on it as it landed - a very pale Lesser Whitethroat. It instantly shouted Eastern and I grabbed the camera to get some shots. Over the next hour I watched and photographed it feeding around the small group of bushes. A most interesting bird. Unbeknown to me it had apparently been found earlier independently by several other birders initially in the suaeda.

Central Asian Lesser Whitethroat of race halimodendri

Very pale indeed
At some angles the plumage suggested a Minula

But the tail pattern appears to confirm halimodendri - complete white
outer (6th) tail feather, lacking dark spot/streak, and white blob on
end of 5th which Minula does not show.
The bushes were alive with birds. At one time a flock of 8 Blackcap came through together, a group of 7 Goldcrest fed through the suaeda, Robins fed from every perch, a Chiffchaff and many Blackbirds appeared and disappeared. 

Mandy was feeling a little under the weather so rather than trudge around the bushes in the Dunes we walked back along the path to the car. Up ahead three birders with scopes caused me to stop to enquire what they were watching. They replied that they were just enjoying the ambience of the place and that they had seen a couple of Ring Ouzel and a Redstart. In a near repeat of last weekend I casually scanned the distant hedgerows and with my bins picked up the unmistakable form of a Great Grey Shrike sat on top of a bush. As I pointed it out the bird flew into the air to catch an insect and vanished. I raced up the hill and grabbed my scope from the car, soon relocating it on the hedge at the far side of the field. A couple of other birders were chatting beside their cars so I pointed it out to them then walked closer along the edge of the field to get a better view. What a stunner.
The Great Grey Shrike across the field
Next stop was Wells Woods where I birded the Dell area for an hour and a half. Again lots of birds, with flocks of Robins, Redwings and Blackbirds, the occasional small party of Redpoll, Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs with the roving Tit flocks and 2 Woodcock flushed from the understory. With the predicted rain finally arriving and with Mandy starting to catch a chill we returned to the Pub in Holt for the evening. As we drove past Warham Greens a couple of cars parked in the Eastern track caught my attention, but I decided not to stop - turned out there was a showy Pallas' Warbler. Oh well, can't win them all.  

Norfolk Weekend Away

11 October 2013


On the way north we stopped at Mundford for an excellent breakfast and then drove half a mile to Lynford Arboretum. Occasional small flocks of Redwing were flying over and a Brambling called along the road. Near the car park we found a nice flock of about 20 Common Crossbill, but had no luck with the Two-barreds that have been feeding in the larches here on and off for the last few weeks. As a band of drizzle arrived we decided to head on to the coast.  

We drove on reaching Titchwell around midday. The wind was blowing a full on gale force NE. A quick stop for a warming coffee at the Visitor Centre, then we tried Patsy's Pool, but standing behind the viewing screens was very uncomfortable with the wind howling through the slats. We gave up and walked out to Parrinder Hide. Just as we arrived a couple of very familiar faces appeared from the hide - the Burt's also enjoying a weekend away. After a quick chat we watched a resting Long-eared Owl sitting on one of the close islands - quite an unusual sight.  Just as I started scanning the pool a guy rushed over and asked if we had seen the phalarope that had just flown by. We hadn't but from the hide we soon located it: a stunning immature Grey Phalarope. It initially seemed tired and unsettled, and flew all around the pool even disappearing onto Patsy's Pool briefly, before returning to spend much of the afternoon on the main pool. 

Grey Phalarope flies in

And feeds on the islands with other waders

As I scanned further over I found the drake green- winged teal feeding with its European counterparts. One of the highlights of my birding year was sitting scanning with my bins while Mandy confidently picked out this rare American duck and pointed it (and the Phalarope) out with my scope to all comers!

Drake Green-winged Teal feeding with two Eurasian Teal and a Pintail

The pool was full of birds; geese, ducks, waders. A ruff, 20 Dunlin, 10 Ringed Plover, 2 Black-tailed Godwit. Some of them gave incredibly close views.

Black-tailed Godwit

A couple of tired Little Gull arrived and rested briefly from the howling wind.

Two adult Little Gulls fly in for a rest

We took the walk into the full force of the wind and briefly looked out to sea, but the spray and sand blasting soon put us off. There wasn't much moving. 

Dark-bellied Brent Geese fly over
Drake Shoveler nearing the end of its moult
We left Titchwell and drove east parking at Lady Anne's Drive. I realised that the woods would provide an area of shelter to the deciduous cover and scrub. We walked a couple of miles west checking all the bushes. There were lots of birds, mainly Robins, Blackbirds, Song Thrush, Dunnocks, and tits. We found a few Chiffchaff including a wing barred abietinus type, many Goldcrest and two Treecreeper (perhaps Northern European birds?), but despite it smelling of a rarity we couldn't find anything. 

We finished the day on the track at Warham Greens but there was no sign of the Rustic Bunting seen earlier. Then it was off to check in at the Kings Head in Holt where we were to spend the next two nights.  Fortunately they had a rather impressive Real Ale selection.... 

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Shrike in the sunshine

6 October 2013

Capel Fleet

I was up early and on my way back to Capel Fleet - I couldn't resist the chance of some better views of the shrike. I was going to walk down the footpath from the Leysdown Cemetery but found the one hour parking restrictions and nowhere safe I wanted to leave my car, so went down the Harty Road and parked up at the raptor viewing mound. With reference to my Ordnance Survey application I found a footpath that runs north west from the mound across the fields and over to the cemetery - i.e. the other end of the path I was originally going to take. Using my app I was able to follow the correct route as it is not consistently marked on the ground and runs across various stubble fields. I eventually found myself with a small crowd who had walked out from the wooden bridge and somehow ended up on the footpath.

Adult Lesser-grey Shrike
The Lesser-grey Shrike was initially feeding in the small line of bushes as it had been last night, and the new viewing position enabled much closer views in perfect light. It spent a lot of time hopping around on the ground looking like a giant male Wheatear as it searched on the stubble for insects. As the temperature increased it started to feed from the bushes, either dropping onto the ground or flying up into the air to catch a flying insect. We watched as it returned with a wasp and impaled it on a thorn. Occasionally it would come closer onto the nearest bush and give fantastic views. The sunlight bleached out the pinkish breast colour seen last night, though occasionally it was just visible on its shoulder.

About 100 people arrived and watched it during the morning. There were lots of birds in the fields: 40 Meadow Pipit, 10 Sky Lark, 20 Reed Bunting, 25 Linnet, 6 Goldfinch, 4 Greenfinch, 8 Pied/White Wagtail and a Chiffchaff. I flushed four Common Snipe from the ditches and fields and a Green Sandpiper flew over. The usual Common Buzzard, Marsh Harrier and Kestrels were seen on various perches or soaring in the very still air.

I had a brief look off Harty Ferry, but the noise from the clay pigeon shooting soon drove me away. I then checked the hedgerow at the base of Harty Hill where I found 3 Chiffchaff, 3 Common Buzzard, and little else. Then I called it a day and headed home. 

And a couple of digi-scoped shots:


And some video: