30 Apr 2022

30 Apr 22 - Just Like London Buses

In the previous Blog Post, I detailed the circumstances around finding my first Dorset Black Kite. Two days later, Nick Hopper rang me whilst doing a Raptor survey from a viewpoint near the Soldiers Road Stud Farm to say, he had relocated my Black Kite and drifting West over the Corfe Ridge to the North West of Corfe Castle. I rang the news around the local Birders, grabbed the camera & headed there. Within a few minutes, I had overshot to a good vantage point at Stonehill Down, expecting it to have carried on drifting West. Nick rang again to say he was in a pull in about a half mile along the Church Knowle road & it was over the ridge above him. It had clearly turned around. I picked it up from Stonehill Down, but it was about 1.5 miles as the Black Kite flies. I quickly returned to join Nick on the Church Knowle road. It was still flying over the ridge.
Black Kite: There had been a number of Black Kite sightings in West Dorset about a week to ten days earlier. Dorset doing well for Black Kite records in 2022
Black Kite
Black Kite: These two Jackdaws weren't as happy with this visitor as I was
Black Kite
Black Kite
Over the next forty-five minutes, we were joined by another six locals: Pete Moore, Jol Mitchell, James Leaver, Rob Johnson, Phil Saunders & Durwyn Lilley. We were the only locals to see it, before it circled off high & drifted off towards Hartland Heath: never to be seen again.
James (left), Jol & Phil: Enjoying the Black Kite, albeit not in the best of parking locations. Fortunately, it wasn't busy on this road at the time. One lady did stop & I wondered if she was wondering what was happening. But it turns out it was James's wife!
The amazing thing was when we checked the photos against the photo that Rob Johnson took of my Black Kite from two days earlier, it was confirmed to be a different individual. Just like the proverbial London Buses of my school days, that take forever to come & then arrive together. I've attached a copy of Rob Johnson's photo of my Black Kite, which had a broken primary shaft in the left wing. This highlights the advantage & importance of people carrying decent cameras these days.
Black Kite: Photo by Rob Johnson over the Ulwell Gap. Thanks to Rob for allowing me to publish this photo & the copyright of this photo remains with Rob

28 Apr 2022

28 Apr 22 - A Self-found Dorset Tick

On 28 Apr 22, I was late heading to the St Aldhelms patch. As I reached the last house at the western end of Langton Matravers at 08:35, I saw a Kite over the house. I stopped to check it out as I always double-check & enjoy watching local Red Kites. Red Kites are mainly drift visitors in Spring & early Summer & still not a common sighting locally. Through the bins I could see immediately see that it wasn’t a Red Kite, but a Black Kite. I only had about thirty seconds to try to take this in, before it landed on a telegraph pole. I pulled the car off the road onto a nearby rough parking spot & jumped out of the car to see two Jackdaws had already appeared & started to mob it. It flushed to the mobbing & I lost it as it went low behind the house & into a blind spot below the level of the land: it didn't reappear.

Given the light North Easterly winds, I suspected it was an Easterly drifting Black Kite & it would reappear over the Ulwell Gap or nearby Corfe Ridge before passing North over Studland. There isn’t a great viewpoint at the Ulwell Gap that I could drive to & there wasn’t enough time to walk to a viewpoint above Ulwell. So I decided to head to the high ground by the old National Trust centre above Littlesea, Studland. I was greedily looking to add it to the Studland & Poole Harbour lists. I briefly stopped to grab the camera from my house. There was no time to lose as in the past, I’ve chased three Red Kites that passed over my house & one reached Studland as I arrived in the car. I never saw the other two again & potentially they beat me. I also rang the news around to alert the locals. James Leaver & Rob Johnson headed out to different viewpoints between Swanage & Studland, while Nick Hopper was already out around Godlingston on a Raptor survey.

The first hour at Littlesea went by with no joy & I was starting to think I had made the wrong choice. Finally, there was a call from Rob Johnson at 09:55 to say he had just seen it flying low & North through the Ulwell Gap & he had taken some photos. From my viewpoint, I couldn't see the top of the Ulwell Gap as it's hidden behind the wooded hill to the West of Studland village. It was then a case of waiting & hoping I would pick it up heading North over Godlingston or Studland Village. The next call was from Nick Hopper to say he had just seen it low to the East of the golf course clubhouse & heading East. I decided to hold my nerve at Littlesea & kept scanning Ballard & the village.
Black Kite: Photo by Rob Johnson over the Ulwell Gap. Thanks to Rob for allowing me to publish this photo & the copyright of this photo remains with Rob
A few minutes later, James Leaver rang to say he could see it high over the Glebelands estate on Ballard. I picked it up a minute or so later high over the Corfe Ridge & a few hundred metres to the East of the Glebelands estate, which put it in the Studland and Poole Harbour patches. It was too far for a photograph, but it was still identifiable with the telescope. After a couple of calls trying to get the news out, I couldn't relocate it. Nick Hopper & Jol Mitchell joined me at the Littlesea viewpoint & we stayed till 12:20 with no further sign. It had been a good day with a nice self-found Dorset Tick.