It was a gorgeous and hot day, and after an exhausting morning of basho training in Bromley, we were delighted to have the opportunity to sit in a sweaty traffic jam in Croydon over lunchtime. Eventually we made it to the M25 and headed clockwise to junction 16 and the M40, a.k.a. 'Red Kite Highway'. Rob has only seen Red Kites in Scotland, when we were going through Inverness on our way to Wester Ross, and there was no time for pics. I hoped that Aston Rowant, in Oxfordshire, would prove as great for the species as I'd remembered.
The original Chilterns reintroduction site is nearby, and has proved extremely successful, with birds now breeding in a wide swathe across Oxon, Bucks and beyond. We saw our first kite at junction 2 of the motorway, but by junction 5 where we turned off, we'd seen two groups of about five birds plus several singletons.
From the reserve car park we followed a trail through a short stretch of woodland and out onto the escarpment. The hill falls away sharply down to the motorway, which provides a constant noisy soundtrack but doesn't seem to bother the kites at all. Rob was soon happily clicking away at them as they wafted overhead.
Besides kites and butterflies, we also saw one Buzzard and there were assorted warblers in the wood and scrub. I'm hoping to do a return visit in midsummer when there should be goodies like Dark Green Fritillary and Silver-spotted Skipper on the wing. And it would be great for Rob to have another go at photographing those wonderful kites.