Having only arrived home at midnight last night from an RSPB talk in Brighton and then getting up for the Broom morning session at 5am - today had to deliver some payback.
The early shift didn't produce much except a smart fly through Black Tern at 0730hrs and a Dunlin. I decided to have a quick look around Willington GP before returning to Broom - highlights being a calling Turtle Dove, singing Nightingale and a Common Sandpiper.
On my way back to Broom I noticed a farmer ploughing a rough field near Moggerhanger and suspecting nesting Lapwings I stopped and had a scan - not only Lapwings but also a pair of Oystercatchers - thirty minutes later both nests were found and saved as I persuaded the young farmer to kindly lift his machinery over the nests, which he did - payback was really on now !
As I approached Broom I received a text informing me of a singing Whinchat along the entrance track found by Martin. I joined Steve Blain and enjoyed good views of the moorland bound migrant - we were joined by Andy Plumb. I then went around to the main lake and began scanning the skies, almost immediately getting on to four distant high falcons in the same general area where I picked up the Montis last weekend.
Although all four were silhouetted, three were clearly hobbies but one just didn't fit and had a strong feel of a Red-footed Falcon (several of which had arrived in the UK on the high pressure system we are currently enjoying in recent days).
After a few seconds more viewing I called Steve and suggested he came round. Switching to my 60x eye piece I then watched the bird for a couple of minutes and then rang Steve again and told him to get a move on !
Steve, Andy and myself then watched the bird for a few minutes during which time we were joined by Lol Carmen, Bob Chalkley and Roy Nye who were amazed when we suggested we might be watching a Red-Foot !
The bird was now under continual observation but was always distant and high - although its completely different appearance and size made it rather easy to pick up from the accompanying hobbies. After a period of time and better views we confirmed it as a female RFF ! News was put out quickly allowing Martin and Matt to get the bird just in time as it gave its closest views overhead. Martin even drove down the track !!
The bird had a long tail 'pinched in' at the base and often fanned at the tip, dark grey upperparts, orange washed underparts lacking any obvious dark streaking, an orange head, a pale collar and facial patches, rather rounded wing tips - especially when in level flight when its profile strangely most resembled a kestrel, it had tail barring visible on the underside but lacking in the central pair which were uniform dark. Based on this the bird was aged as a 1st summer female - this was supported by primary moult to one feather on each outer wing finger.
Typical of all Broom fly thru's it started to gain height again and headed off NE.
Payback completed !