Tuesday, 16 August 2011

A Trip to the Chilterns.

The birding locally was a bit flat and the forecast was good so on Monday morning I headed down the M40 to the Chilterns to try for some Red Kite shots arriving at the NT car park at Watlington Common at just before 10.00AM.

Just as I came out of the wood onto the common I was stupidly lured into the bushes on the left of the path by a complete stranger.He said "Have you come for the Silver-spotted Skipper ?".Worried that this might be code talk for something very sinister I responded with a harsh "What" He said "The butterfly".Very relieved I told him no but I would like to see it.

I've very little knowledge of butterflies but he was chuffed to see it and had come all the way from Merseyside to do so.He showed me the silver spots on the underside which appeared to be important so I can only assume that they are rare.

I've been to Watlington Common twice before this visit and each time there have been loads of Red Kites around often swooping low over the Common.You could pick a spot, plonk yourself down and let them come to you.However this time was completely different I could only see two and they were literally miles away.Oh Dear.

By the time I reached the end of the Common just before it slopes down steeply and sat myself down on the bench there I hadn't seen a single Red Kite.Was it just a bad Kite day or had they all moved on.

Half an hour later two did start cruising the field well below me and I managed my first shot of the day of one which appeared to have caught a mouse.

It was still pretty quiet for the next hour except for this chap who was cruising the area.It might have been looking for me as I had gone through a radar trap a few days earlier on route to Draycote.

My first bit of luck happened as I was eating a chicken role when one came pretty close and I was able to rattle off a few shots.

Fed up with trying to take shots and eat my roll at the same time I suddenly had a brilliant idea and I threw the remainder of the roll out onto the common.My new best friend immediately got interested and I was able to get some closer shots.Suddenly it did a wing flap and it swooped down and grabbed my roll before flying off with it's lunch.Wow!!! Not many people can say they shared lunch with a Red Kite.

A few minutes later it turned up again looking for more food but I decided to eat the last roll myself.This did not please my new best friend and it stared down at me as it flew off calling out angrily saying I'm sure "You tight fisted git".

I then went down to the little town of Watlington and after a quick drink in the pub at the bottom of the hill I had a walk round the town.I saw no more than three Kites on the Common but saw at least six flying round the town so this might be the better place to see them.

Although I only had a twenty minute spell with these cracking birds on the Common it was well worth the visit.


ann pallas-bentley said...

Max you must really stay away from strange men lurking in the bushes!!!

Max Silverman said...

You are right but the last time it happened a few years ago at Brandon the chap showed me great views of an Osprey.

Pete Walkden said...

Next time you're down that way, call into RSPB Otmoor (off at the Oxford junction). Worth a look, as there are hobbies around at the mo.

Great shots and as usual, amusing commentary!

Max Silverman said...

cheers Pete.

Kevin Groocock said...

Excellent Kites, Max - I must go back.