Red Kites and Cramp Balls

Russ writes:

The morning started with another raptor bonanza, this time commencing with two Red Kites slowly but majestically drifting into the biting northwest wind - let’s hope they’re a prospective breeding pair checking out potential future territories! Their presence was less well received by an angry Raven, that energetically weaved around beneath them before returning to a presumed nest site in a stand of large conifers - a nice way to find a new territory for our Raven survey! Then, just as the Raven settled, I picked up an immature Goshawk using the wind to its advantage as it sliced across the sky above the treetops, scattering the local Jackdaw population like black confetti. Add in several Buzzards and a couple of Sparrowhawks, and it was another good opening half hour!

Despite the above, it was a relief to soon plunge down into sheltered woodland, where the sunshine and relative warmth made it feel like a very different day. A couple of Crossbills called from a stand of pines, and what was presumed to be the earlier Raven was seen noisily chasing another out of its territory – a quick compass check of its return route confirmed the presumed nest location about a mile away. This is twice in recent days that I’ve seen a Raven travel about a mile to escort another out of its territory, perhaps this is the 'radius of tolerance' for New Forest birds on territory! A tortured old Beech tree, its split interior used as a fire pit at some point, contained Cramp Balls (aka King Alfred Cakes) and presumed Hairy Curtain Crust fungus.

The weather forecast predicts more rain and gales to come in the next week or two, so it looks like we’re going to see the winter out with barely any frosts and lots of wind and water! It will be interesting to see what impact this has on the forthcoming spring.

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