On Thursday 26th August a Black Kite was found on the Hampshire/Wiltshire border near Rockbourne. On the wishes of local gamekeepers news of the bird was suppressed. News eventually leaked out and the first I heard was six days later when a local pager message reporting that a Black Kite had been seen going to roost in the plantation on Dunberry Hill near Rockbourne. The pager also reported that the bird had been in the area for a number of days, even better!
I was on holiday for the week and so I immediately made plans to get to the site for sunrise, this would be at about 6:20am. The last twitchable Black Kite had been at Durlston as long ago as June 1992. I had known about the Durlston bird on the Friday night as it went to roost but for some reason waited for news on the Saturday morning and by the time I got to Durlston, from our flat in Southampton, the bird had gone.
I joined 80 or so other birders near Rockbourne and began to watch the plantation at SU118192. The Kite had been seen to enter the trees at dusk and had not been seen to leave. Despite the thick fog we were all fairly confident. As the morning drifted away the fog thickened and with no sightings of the kite we began to lose heart. Perhaps it had flown out of the back of the trees hidden by the fog and could be miles away by now. At about 11am I gave up and headed home, we had arranged to go shopping in Salisbury.
While in Clark’s looking for children’s shoes my pager reported that the Kite had been refound at Dunberry Hill, the mist had cleared and between 2:30pm and 3pm the bird had showed well. Having bought the shoes we all headed back to Kam and I arranged to head straight off to Rockbourne, perhaps the bird would roost at Dunberry Hill again.
I arrived to find that the bird had not been seen since 3pm. I met up with Nick and James and Mum & Dad also turned up with the Harrisons. I couldn’t stay all evening because I had to get back to Salisbury to take the family home. With a heavy heart I left the site for the second time and headed back to Kam.
Despite better weather the next day the kite was not seen until 2:45pm when it appeared from the south west. It showed for a few minutes before disappearing over the ridge near Dunberry Hill, this was the only sighting of the day. Having already had two failed attempts I decided against getting to Rockbourne for dawn but would keep an eye on my pager during Saturday.