Friday, 9 May 2008

South Swale by storm (Prat side story)

Thursday 8th May seemed like any other day at work, and historically is a good day in the SE especially for Black Kites in Kent!! Relaxing at home early evening I thought I'd have a quick look on the internet to see what's about.............BIG MISTAKE !! News of a Collared Pratincole had me changing plans very quickly and enjoying the delights of late commuter traffic on the A2 for the 40 minute or so drive to park at Harty Church. On arrival I met Julian Russell and we duly set off for the brisk walk to the South Swale reserve to 'try our luck'. Whilst in R.E.M (rapid excited movements) we noted a small dark raptor coast pass us and commented that it looked Hobby/Kestrel like but chose to watch a nearby Barn owl instead!!! Shortly after meeting Ian Harding we were told by Adam Whitehouse that the raptor in question was a female Red footed Falcon !!! B******s or words to that effect !!! Undeterred though we located the Collared Pratincole at about 1945 flying over the marshes and the gathered crowd all vying for position on the almost deserted bank !!! ( a very small twitch) enjoyed this cracking bird until it sat down and became virtually invisible. A great bird to see though closer views would have been better, but an enjoyable evening with cocked up Falcon, Pratincole, 2+ Barn Owls and stacks of Marsh Harrier. On the way back a Sprog Hawk flew past..........easy!!
Incredibly the bird was not seen again, and I was therfore pretty glad that I went for it after all now, my 3rd Collared Prat in Kent, with a bird at Dunge in 1986, and a bird many years later at Elmley RSPB. Amazingly this bird was found by Derek Faulkner who has now found ALL 3 species of British vagrant Pratincoles at the same site, an excellent achievement and testament to the benefits of a local patch!
A very, very, very poor piccie but better than nothing and anyway you get the idea even from this photos taken by me very much in the school of 'close your eyes' photography!!

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