I have to start this post by offering my sincere thanks to Steve Gale who has provided the platform for the #BWKm0 "laid back garden challenge" these past 49 days. His effort and IT skills have provided me, and so many others, with a fantastic distraction from the realities of "lockdown" UK.
My own circumstances won't change much, for at least the next fortnight, due to having Bev's mum living with us. Eighty-six, very frail and bed-ridden, I don't want to be the one who passes on this dreadful virus which might see her spend her last few days, alone and frightened, in a hospital ward. Garden birding and social distancing is how it must remain, for Bev and I, whatever Boris announces on Sunday? Anyhow, there I was, yesterday, desperate for one last addition to see my garden total reach that magic sixty mark. A bit of high grey cloud, early doors, gradually burned away as the sun dominated the majority of daylight, from mid-morning onward.
Glory be, there was a very brief appearance by a male Lesser Whitethroat, two bursts of that unmistakable "warbling rattle" and my target was achieved. A group of three House Martins appeared shortly afterwards, so number sixty-one, and I could feel myself grinning with satisfaction, although I had no-one to share the moment with.
It was around 11.10 hrs when I watched, in utter amazement, a female Kestrel chase off two, rather tatty looking, Red Kites. They were headed my way, from down by St. Lawrence College, before Mrs Kestrel got involved and pushed them off to the east. Thinking that they, like three Common Buzzards the previous day had done, would not fancy a sea crossing whilst the murky conditions along the coast prevailed, would end up doing a circuit of Thanet. Fully expecting another chance, I remained vigilant outside in the garden. My binos and camera were close to hand when the gulls, over at Pyson's Road, went up. Never really in full panic mode, they simply soared above the factory units not particularly happy about something? I picked up a very distant raptor, approaching from the west. Common Buzzard, no surely not? Marsh Harrier, yeah that's more like it and I watched it start to move south towards Pegwell Bay. I grabbed the camera and rattled off half a dozen shots, thinking nothing more of it. Steve was emailed with my final tally, there was the Thursday NHS clap to participate in, hedgehogs to feed, and so much other stuff that I didn't download the camera until this morning. What with a magnificent sunset, and the super moon, blogging sort of went out the window somewhere in the mix.
What a mistake. A group of Common Swifts and two sparring male Sparrowhawks had me pointing the long lens skyward early this morning, whilst a Hobby made it onto my list at number 62. It wasn't until lunch time that I bothered to see what I'd managed to record. Because I have two cameras, which I use simultaneously, the downloaded images quite often have the same jpeg number as another image and, as a result, I get a file with the photos I want to view, interspersed by previously downloaded ones from other dates in the month. I have absolutely no doubt that there is a very simple solution to this problem but, hey-ho, I'm totally computer illiterate, so will continue to do things my way. My photos were okay, the swifts will do for the fifty species garden challenge if I don't manage something better later on? So whilst I was at the laptop, yesterday's Marsh Harrier images might as well get an airing. "What the f*ck? "
The bird was never any closer than 800 m, a similar range to the Rough-legged Buzzard, but at least it had the decency to fly south and not north. Six visible primary "fingers" the carpal angle in active flight and the, slightly concave, triangular tail shape - I'm going with BLACK KITE! Can I count it? Are you kidding? I made a mistake which, fortunately, technology was able to rectify. I'm only human after all. So Hobby was actually number 63 on my garden list. Quit now - not a chance!