Monday 24 July 2023

Black Winged Kite, Felixstowe, Suffolk - BOU450

I'd been keeping a close eye on news of Britain's 2nd ever Black Winged Kite, that was found on the evening of Monday 17th July at Horsey Mill in Norfolk. A pattern emerged, with it coming into roost mid evening and viewable early the next morning, but in the main, flying off and not seen during the day. 

The first opportunity I would have would be Friday 21st, so I hoped it would stick and I'd have to drive through the night to ensure I was on site by about 5am. Apparently parking on site was limited adding to the logistical issues. On Thursday 20th morning it was still on site, so a plan was needed and Andy and I discussed the various options; leave 2am to get there for 5am, go earlier and sleep in the car etc. By late afternoon to complicate things further, Andy informed me that his car had failed it's MOT so he could no longer drive and was getting picked up by Garry Bagnel. Garry wanted to leave early around 9.30pm. This didn't really suit me so I decided to bail and decide what to do the next day. 

Around 7.30pm I checked Birdguides to see if the kite had yet returned to roost, only to see that a Black Winged Kite was now being reported in Felixstowe, Suffolk! A much closer (1.5 hrs) and easier place to get to. It had headed south!      

News kept coming in until dusk and it had gone to roost.  I spoke with Andy and said I would see him there the next morning. The alarm was set for 4.30am but luckily I woke up earlier and was up and on the road by 4.30am. The sat-nav said it would take 1 hour 20 mins. 

About 15 mins from the site I called Andy for an update to be told it had flown but was still on show. It was now about a 1 mile walk from the car. Luckily I found a parking space quickly and speed marched along the river wall. I could see a large group of birders gathered in the distance and for insurance purposes I asked people who were plotted up on route if they could see it, until one fella about half way to the bird said he had it in his scope and let me look, just in case.

More relaxed I continued towards the bird until I reached the main crowd. The kite done the decent thing, sitting up nicely on bare branches no more than 150m away providing great views, and over the course of the next hour flew around and hovered over fields, always returning to its favoured perch. 

Sadly not my photo as I forgot my camera. I was kindly given permission to use it by Mike Alibone
The kite was mostly in the trees to the right hand side of this photo
I caught up with Andy, Saw Dave Bradnum as well as some other birders I had got to know over the years. Happy I headed back to the car and was home by 8.45am. 

Interestingly the bird continued to follow a pattern and disappeared around 9.30am only to be picked up further south, ironically in Essex (Colne Point) that evening, allowing more people to see it there. Again it disappeared around 9.30am, and despite a couple of reports of it in flight it has not been pinned down since.  As it has been heading south for 2-3 days there is a good chance it may have hopped over the channel, back into mainland Europe.   



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