Thursday 20 July 2023

Black-winged Kite: Horsey, Norfolk

On the evening of the 17th, bird news services reported a Black-winged Kite had been photographed and showing well over fields at Stubb Mill in Hickling Norfolk!

This was not good news as far as we were concerned as Brian had hospital appointments the next day with his father-in-law, preventing any chance of making the trip.

At 6.45am the bird duly appeared for the assembled masses and was seen in flight and perched in trees throughout the early morning. At 9.40 it was reported to have "flown high north and lost to view" later to be reported at Trimmington. I went to bed that evening believing my chance to see this bird had gone. 

The first sighting of a Black-winged Kite in Britain had only recently occurred this year when just two individuals saw one flying across farm fields at Newtown in Powys on the 18th of April. It was never seen again.

Normally found in parts of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, its range has been expanding and now has breeding populations in Spain and Portugal even as close as Northern France.

At 9.56 the next morning news broke that the bird was again back in the Horsey area! Unfortunately, Brian had another appointment to keep, so we didn't leave until late morning. The weather forecast was less than encouraging with heavy rain showers predicted. We arrived around 2pm having received negative news on route. We parked at Horsey Mill and joined the gathered birders. There was just one sighting of the bird while we were present, that being a flight view reported from West Somerton, The light rain became heavy and persistent and we took refuge under the roof of the cafe. We stuck it out until 7pm before heading for home, only for the bird to be seen from the viewpoint at 8.23pm. 

Brian had already made up his mind, he was returning the following morning. We set off at 3am, arriving shortly after 5am. The track down to the roost site was longer than I had expected and took about twenty minutes before we reached the viewing area. A thick mist covered the surrounding fields and viewing was very difficult, as was finding a suitable place to view from when the mist cleared. Around 6.30am a shout went up along the line, someone thought they could see the bird. The mist was still present but was slowly clearing to reveal a line of small trees in the middle of the field in front of us. Perched near the top of one of these trees was the bird! it was difficult at first to make out as it had its back turned forward us, soon it began preening and scanning the area. Several times it looked as if it would take flight, only for it to fly onto a nearby branch and rest again. We watched it for about 90 minutes and then suddenly it was off. It flew high east and was eventually lost to view. 

First View of the Black-winged Kite

Cropped view

Having just left the roost site

It was in the area until 9.40am, and no further sightings were reported until it was seen at Felixstowe Ferry in Suffolk at 7.30pm.