23rd April 1993 I am sitting in Nancy’s Cafe, Cley; the pager goes off ....BLACK KITE Cley, going West, whoa! Jump in the car and head, hell for leather along the coast road. Long story short we get to Holme before the bird, unfortunately the bird has gone inland before it gets to Holme!
30th August 2003 I am sitting at home; the pager goes off....BLACK KITE over Barne Elms going North-east, hmmm. The pager goes off again a short while later....BLACK KITE over Regents Park, HMMMM! A map is whipped out, a line is drawn between the two and then extended. Whoa! This is going to cross the Lea Valley just North of the Banbury! A very short while later I am standing just North of the Banbury. The bird has decided on a different route presumably.
15th July 2011 it being a weekday I decided that the Waterworks would be suitably quiet for a visit. I have recently realised that the weekends are just too busy over there for any meaningful birding. I think I am beginning to realise that it is never quiet on the patch! The Heathrow bound jets roared overhead; the City airport planes screeched past, there was the constant hum of the A12 and the Lea Bridge Road. On the working waterboard site next door the stone crushing machine was so loud it almost drowned out the noise of the metal grinding machine. The pile driving equipment was pounding out and the trains and emergency vehicles came and went. Still no screaming kids, so not a total loss.
I was keeping one eye to the skies, which looked lovely with big puffy clouds, just right for some goody to fly over, and one eye to the ground checking for Butterflies and Dragonflies. It’s a good trick if you can manage it.
In the skies there was a fairly steady trickle of returning, mostly adult, Black-headed Gulls. A hunting Peregrine livened things up but drifted off toward Hackney. After a Cornetto and bottle of water from the Waterworks cafe I was ready to take on the Golf Course and the marsh. Brown Hawkers are out now and I saw a, presumably, Common Darter. A couple of Holly Blues were evidence of a second emergence, I guess.
I kept one of my eyes skyward and this was joined by both of my ears as I listened, in vain it turned out, for Crossbills. I was mentally compiling the blog title for when I finally get some of these flying over...Do you want chips with that? Hello Mr. Chips. Chips with everything. Etc. etc.
I had just about reached the Northern edge of the marsh when the pager went off; BLACK KITE....Beddington, flew North, an email to the same effect arrived soon after complete with web link to photos of the beast. Hmm, North eh? The wind was South-west and if it had not flown into the wind my guess was that it would go with the wind, which would take it to.....ME! This time I am ahead of the game.
I hurried round to the small mound at the back of the filter beds, which gives a pretty good panorama for skywatching, and scanned. In between scanning I checked the wind direction, compass bearing, distance from Beddington, variations for if it really did go North (I would still pick it up over the City) or if it went more North-east (I could still pick it up over Docklands or Stratford) I calculated flight speed with and without a tail wind and compensated for it meandering en route. This was surely as good as in the bag! To see pictures of the Kite that didn’t fly over Walthamstow have a look here:
Future date t.b.a; I am on the patch and look up....a Black Kite flies over.