Sunday became one of those days that I will remember for a long while and find very difficult to beat. Sue, Paul and I met at 5.45am to set up nets for another ringing session at Leith Hill and although cold to start with the clear night it very quickly warmed up as the sun came up and there was very little wind. We hoped for a good session after our first bird caught was one of up to five Woodcock that we saw during the morning (below), the first I have ever caught up here.
The rest of the session continued as normal with good numbers of Siskin, a few Lesser Redpolls and a Common Redpoll.
At about 9.55am a buzzard rose from up the hill from the north circling on a thermal and very quickly we realised that it was something special - a ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD. It rose closer and closer giving us great views before it continued to soar off to the west following the greensand ridge. I have only seen this species once before on the north Kent coast, whilst Paul had seen many from his regular excursions to Sweden. Only a few minutes later we heard a familiar sound and looked across to see the female TWO-BARRED CROSSBILL fly over with a single Common Crossbill. This bird hasn't been seen since 10th December, but a combination of increased availability of drinking sites with the weather and all the Crossbills having paired up to breed has made it difficult to track down.
If that wasn't enough half an hour later another raptor came into view, also from the north circling up on thermals a male GOSHAWK. This is only the fourth time that I have seen one on Leith Hill, but this is the first male that I have seen. It continued to rise up to a very great height, unlike the buzzard and soared off in a south-easterly direction. After this we saw at least eight Common Buzzards doing similar maneouvres rising up on thermals and surely seemed like everything was making the most of the first properly sunny day of the year!
Other highlights of the morning were at least ten Brambling, 15 Common Crossbill in ones and twos and a singing Woodlark.