Monday, 27 December 2010

Birds in A New Area

Yesterday, (Sunday, 26th December, 2010) I received good news from one of my contacts close to the PowysClwyd - Shropshire border of two birds seen regularly for over two weeks. Only very occasional sightings of single birds have been recorded here.
I wonder if these are wandering youngsters or are they first time breeding birds (adults) seeking to establish territory. It is a little early for birds to be on territory but, here is hoping.
I do hope the birds remain as the landowner is very keen to see these magnificent birds in his valley on a more permanent basis!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Orange full stop

Coming to feed on a few scraps gleaned from our local butcher was orange full stop, 2005 chick born just over our boundary. Its so pleasing to see tagged birds turn up looking so fit and beautiful in the sunlit snow: proof of survival. Chris you logged another of 'my' chicks, orange 69, one of 2 born in a nest in the Aeron valley.
The gathering of kites at feeding stations can give the impression that there are huge numbers of kites everywhere as revealed by a comment from a wildlife friendly farmer to the effect that he doesn't like to feed the kites as they might over-breed. Haven't quite worked out what that means yet!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Festive Greetings

I wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to my fellow Kite watchers. It will not be long before the birds are back on territory!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Gigrin Farm 17-12-10

For my fourth visit during the second winter period of the year, the weather conditions had not changed a great deal. Yes, most of the snow ice had disappeared only to be replaced by a fresh fall of three or four inches overnight. The temperature was a mere -1 but, the wind chill made it feel somewhat colder.

There were birds perched in the nearby trees but, were restless moving about from tree to tree and generally flying around. This was not conducive to reading tags. After the feed was strewn around the feeding area the spectacular began but, with only about two hundred or so kites! There must have a similar number of corvids. After feeding the kites left the area and unusually did not sit around in the trees.

Chris Powell told me a lot more kites were present the previous day, once again confirming my theory that birds anticipate the oncoming weather and feed accordingly.

I was only able to read nine (9) tags all from the principality.

The details are below:-

Black/blue: 87; H1;
Black/black: 97; A1; 07; 77;
Black/pink: N8;
Black/Green: 30; 75;

Has anyone been reading tags if so why not post the details here?

Gigrin Farm 07-12-10

I made my third visit during the second winter period of the year to Gigrin Farm; there was snow on the ground or more truthfully ice as a result of the bitter Baltic overnight temperature. When I arrived the weather a cool -4c it dropped to -5c by the end of my visit.

There were plenty of birds perched in the nearby trees surrounding the farm awaiting the arrival of the red tractor bringing the red meat to the feeding area. I was able to read several tags. When Chris Powell entered the focal point for the afternoon activities the expectant birds left their vantage points and converged on the feeding area encircling in what appeared to be a frenzy but, nothing could be further from the truth.

The usual spectacular display lasted a mere quarter of an hour whilst he spread the meat across the snowy surface. Eleven minutes later all the meat was removed by close to six hundred Red Kites plus buzzards and corvids.

The kites remained in the vicinity hopefully waiting for a second course! This provided an opportunity to read tags.

A total of twenty five (25) tags were recorded all were from the principality except one that I was unable to determine the region of origin; hopefully Tony will be able to assist here.

The details are below:-

Black/Blue: H6; 55; 86;

Black/black: 02; A; N9; 50; 53; 34; 37;

Black/yellow: A4; N;

Black/orange: 69;

Black/purple: 61; 14; A9; C;

Black/pink: F6; 29; F2;

Black/Green: ; L; 17; 73

The unidentified tag was pink in colour showing a white “r”. Initially I thought it had a white regional bar but that transpired to a white frost covered twig.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Kite at Bethel, Gwynedd

Whilst travelling on the A.494 road between Bala and Corwen I spotted a Kite just before the village of Bethel near Sarnau Gwynedd (SH987397). I guess its still not a common bird in this part of Wales (yet!).

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Our kite!!

Chris Wells you have made my day! The kite you spotted at Gigrin on the 22nd was our kite seen here after ringing by Tony in June 2008. It was born in a deep comfy nest in one of our garden oak trees but I haven't seen it since. Today, as we put out some scraps on the snow, we were wondering if H6 might still be around.....hooray for Gigrin!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Gigrin Farm - 29th November, 2010

On 29th November, 2010, I made my second visit of the second winter period to Gigrin Farm for the purpose of reading Red Kite tags.I later identified twenty seven (27) tagged birds all from the principality. There were not any foreign birds visible.There were two leucistic birds; the untagged very pale bird that is paler than black/orange 51.

What a difference a week makes oh and minus three degrees in temperature with about an inch of snow! The first winter (dark blue) tagged birds were present in some number. The details are below:-

Black/Blue: N9; f; 10; 37; 55; 50; Z1; 02; 68;

Black/black: a; 77; 68; 87; 89; 36;

N8Black/yellow: 23; Ace of Spades

Black/orange: 51; 65; 29;

Black/purple: J5;

Black/pink: 30; 36; L2; N7;

Black/white: 23;

If any of these are from nest monitored by fellow watchers please drop me an email with location details.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Gigrin Farm – 22nd November, 2010

On 22nd November, 2010, I made my first visit of the second winter period to Gigrin Farm for the purpose of reading Red Kite tags.

On arrival, I saw many birds perched waiting for Chris Powell to start the tractor and deliver the food to the feeding area.

After reading a few tags I made my way to the viewing area, as I passed the rehabilitation aviary I saw a Harris’s Hawk perched on the roof, much to the concern of a buzzard in the aviary.

Chris almost immediately drove past on the tractor and the hawk followed, it had jesses and bells attached the legs!

I later identified twenty nine tagged birds all from the principality plus one from Northumberland.

There was also an untagged leucistic bird paler than black/orange 51. Surprisingly, there was not a single first winter tagged bird present (dark blue)

The details are below:-

Black/black: 11; 37; 50; 53; 55; 77; 99; b; H6; J5

Black/yellow: A4

Black/orange: 13; 51; 3 Domino

Black/green: 75

Black/purple: 52; 74; 82; C; H1

Black/pink: 69; E3; E7; F6; F8; N6

Pink/pink: 02

Monday, 15 November 2010


As Christmas rapidly approaches I thought now was a good time (or maybe too late for some!) to remind everyone that the Welsh Kite Trust has a wide range of high quality, bi-lingual, Christmas and Blank cards for sale. This year's new card design is by renown local wildlife artist Terence Lambert and features a Red Kite over snow (now there's a surprise!).

If anyone is interested you can email me on and I'll email you a pdf of our catalogue and order form.

Needless to say all profits go towards further kite (and other raptor) monitoring and research in Wales.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Radio Wales Broadcast on Irish Kite Re-introductions

If you would like an insight into why there haven't been many posts from me in the past six weeks you could listen to the following radio broadcast on the BBC's iplayer. It is only available until 8 am on 18th July!

Saturday, 10 July 2010


On 28th June the second batch of Welsh Red Kite chicks sailed across to Ireland making 53 in total for this year. This was the maximum amount we were allowed to collect under our Countryside Council for Wales license so the Irish conservationists at the Golden Eagle Trust and RSPB Northern Ireland were well pleased.

Collecting was not as difficult as last year as there were far more broods of two chicks around and the breeding success appears to have been pretty good. Will know more when we analyse the breeding figures collected by all the nestwatchers. So far, over 230 Welsh kite chicks have been ringed and tagged too. Many thanks to all the watchers for their help and to all the landowners who allowed us to collect a chick.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Thank you

Just a quick note to say a huge thank you to Tony for allowing me to go out climbing with him for a few days this ringing/tagging season, just hope I was more help than hindrance. Already looking forward to next year.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Kite caught 'cat-napping'!

I checked one of my local kite nests again today and this one is situated in a mature larch wood which has a thick luxuriant growth of grass at base level because the relatively open canopy allows the sunlight to get through. On my approach to the nest I climbed a gate and skirted around the field below the nest wood. I was a bit concerned because I couldn't see a kite flying around and had visions of the nest having failed. I walked quietly through the wood edging closer towards the nest and then to my surprise I found myself standing under the branch of a larch tree near the nest tree which had one of the adult birds perched on it! It sort of had its back to me and was about 35-40 feet up. Clearly the bird had not heard or seen me approach. I was quite proud of that actually! Anyway I quietly set up my scope and trained it on the nest. I honestly thought the bird was sick or something but in fact I think it was just 'cat-napping' and enjoying basking in the warmth of the sunshine. Parenthood has taken its toll on it I think! Anyway I kind of 'deliberately' made a noise to alert it as it was getting quite embarrassing by now. So here am I looking at the nest with my scope standing directly under the bird which should have been alert and guarding it. I reckon that would be a sackable infringement in the human world! The bird 'woke up' startled and rapidly vacated its perch!
Anyway I was quite amused by the whole episode. I've never gotten so close to a bird of prey without being noticed before. Oh by the way there was a single downy chick in the nest. Lets hope when it grows up its more alert than its parent!

All's well in the wood

Those of you that don't live in West Wales might like to know that despite all the world's troubles there is a little bit of heaven in a Welsh wood near me!
The nest is high in a tall oak just in from the downslope edge and facing west; set in a triple fork it is large, secure and has a deep layer of wool in the bowl. The oak leaves are fresh and bright, luminous in the shafts of sunlight as a slight breeze sways the canopy.
This is my only nest that can be observed from above and although the kite has circled high overhead, he/she hasn't whistled yet so I sit and wait a few moments. Then suddenly two white woolly heads pop out of the nest and wait alert, hoping for some food no doubt. I pass on to treasure this image hoping it won't turn into a rain soaked nightmare in June.
Met our leader Tony Cross earlier in the day. He had already ringed choughs on the coast, checked and ringed young in 50 boxes in a steep wood and was on his way into a beautiful valley in the hills to check on the redstarts. Good job he's getting younger by the day!

Tagged Breeding Kite - Machynlleth area

I was checking one of my new kite nests in the Machynlleth area yesterday and the female bird was sitting (still incubating I think). The male was perched on the same tree calling (whistling) and keeping a watchful eye on me although I was trying to be discreet! Cant fault these birds for their excellent eyesight! Anyway through my scope in the shimmering heat haze I was able to read his wing tag as black/white 't'. Over to you Tony!

Tony Cross came back to me on this. Apparently this tagged bird black/white 't' was ringed as a chick in a nest at 'Y Fan' near Llanidloes on 19th June 2002. It was a regular visitor at a kite feeding station near Talsarn during 2003, 2004 and 2005 following which it presumably decided to set up home further north. I checked this nest on the 27th May and the female was sitting tight and the male was nearby but today there was no sign of either bird and the nest appeared empty. I was so disappointed as I had high hopes for this pair. That's whats its like monitoring kite nests you think everything is going well and then you get kicked in the guts! I also checked another nest I had discovered this year and that had failed too. A double whammy! I think what might be significant in these two cases is the proximity of corvids in the vicinity of these breeding sites particularly ravens. Have any other nest-watchers had failures when ravens breed in the vicinity? I mentioned this to one of the landowners and she wanted them all shot! Obviously there is no way I would condone that course of action. I adore the raven as much as I do the kite they are as much part of the Welsh fauna as I am!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Kites at Nant-yr-Arian

I was pleased to read that you paid a visit to Nant-yr-Arian to monitor the kite feeding Mike and that you were satisfied with the quantity and quality of the meat put out for them. Personally I want to ensure that the RSPB/Forestry commission maintain their commitment to the Kite feeding and that they have the welfare of the birds paramount in their minds.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Kites at Nant-yr-Arian

Following the comments from Elfyn on Monday regarding the feeding regime at the Nant yr Arian Feeding Station I visited today to observe the Kite behaviour. Some 120 kites came in at the appointed time. The quantity of feed being dispensed was about 10 kilos- all good quality meat. The birds cleared a lot within the first 10 minutes or so but meat was still around after half an hour - with the odd bird dropping in. If the birds were short of feed they would have cleared the lot!

The number of birds present today, of which only a few were tagged, was a lot higher than normal at this time of year - perhaps reflecting a greater input of juveniles from last year's successful breeding. The general shortage of food on the hills as a result of the hard winter and current cold spell must also be having an effect. The agri - environment schemes which remove all livestock from the uplands from October to April must lead to a shortage of carrion, whether it be carcasses or 'afterbirths'. Hence the increasing dependency on the feeding stations. Also this may well have an effect on the the breeding success of the upland kite population, a matter which the WKT are aware of and are monitoring - thanks to all the help from the 'nest-watchers' who contribute to this scheme.

Pure Joy!

In relation to the entry by Chris Wells I too can report that one of my nests (which happens to be my favorite pair of kites!) has a single young downy chick in it which I would age as a few days old. It was an absolute joy to watch both the parent birds alternately feed the chick this morning. The mother bird was so delicate during the process. Following this she lowered herself gently down onto the nest to brood the chick. This is Kite watching at it's best! Glorious morning sunshine lighting up the nest with singing blackcaps pied flycatchers blackbird and thrush complementing the whole scene. This pair failed last year even though the female sat the full term. I suspect the chick died very soon after hatching or the nest was predated. The farmer on whose land this nest is located is a dear friend of ours and he is so proud of having a kite nest on his land. He was overjoyed when I told him about the chick and in fact he gave me information about another possible pair in my area which I'm checking out. Farmers have a bad press on occasions and certainly there are issues which concern conservations like ourselves but in terms of my kite monitoring I have nothing but praise for them especially those in my immediate community. Yesterday evening one of my kite landowner farmers called by my home to ask me what the situation was with regard to a pair of birds on his land and luckily I had checked the nest a couple of days ago and was able to report that the female was sitting tight. He is a major local landowner and told me of what was probably the only kite nest in the area in 1973/1974 which was on his uncle's land. I remember visiting that location with Bill Condry in 1971. This farmer was in his youth then and told me that their schoolmaster John Davies was keen on birds and took his class to watch an RSPB film on kites which was shown in Aberdyfi. So his interest in kites was fired then. So again he is immensely proud to have a pair of kites nesting on his land.

Postscript:- In relation to the information I had following my conversation with a local farmer this morning I visited the location given and discovered a new nest and probably a new pair of untagged kites so the information he gave me was spot on. I engaged in a very positive rapport with the landowners who were very pleased indeed that they had a kites nest on their land. Again these are conservation minded members of the farming community and illustrates the great importance of kite nest watchers maintaining a good 'working' relationship with farmers and other landowners.

Monday, 10 May 2010


I am pleased to report that I have found my first nest containing young, two strong healthy chicks. I estimate they are about a week old.

Is there anyone else who is able to report successful incubation of eggs?

Kites in the 'Ancient Capital'!

There were two kites hunting over Machynlleth today probably not an uncommon sight when Owain Glyndwr convened his historic parliament here in 1404! (hence Machynlleth's title as the principality's ancient capital). A local resident told me that he had witnessed a kite coming down to take a piece of bread which had been thrown on a garage roof! Perhaps due to the apparent lack of food at a local feeding station they are turning to a diet of bread! I took two guests to the Nant-yr-Arian Forest Centre on Saturday and the kites were duly fed at (just after) 3pm. The 75 plus kites gave an impressive display but it was all over by 3.10pm. Again following a second visit by myself and guests in the past month I saw 5 or 6 kites on the ground looking for food I have not seen this behaviour to such a degree on many previous visits to the centre over a number of years. Basically in my view 'the birds are hungry'. I hope the RSPB and Forestry Commission aren't going to turn the situation into a circus and just using the kites to their own ends. At least Ceredig had the welfare of the birds in mind. My chief concern also is for the 'welfare' of the kites. Surely some of these birds do become dependent on this source of food. So I think the RSPB/Forestry Commission should feed these birds a sufficient quantity of meat or don't feed them at all. I think this issue needs to be addressed by the W.K.T.
I wish to make it quite clear that the above observations are not just my own I have heard comments made by members of the public about the matter.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

On the subject of team work

Pleasure Chris us ex 'plodders' know all about team work eh!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Success from Team Work

I refer to the entry from Elfyn Pugh dated Tuesday, 23 March 2010 and the subsequent exchange of emails between us. I was aware of a pair of kites in part of the area as described but, I had been unable to locate them. I have to report after much searching I found a new nest site on my patch in the vicinity of Llangadfan. Two adult birds have been observed flying over, in and out of the wood. One is tagged and a native bird , however, the year and tag details have to be obtained, the other is not tagged. Thank you Elfyn, for pointing me in a slightly different direction, kite monitoring is also about team work and communication.

Photogenic bird

Wow! Superb photo's of the Kite Tony. Regarding the wandering Kite last seen on Bardsey can you tell us where it originates from in Wales?

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Amazing morning's photography

Earlier this morning Red Liford kindly put me into a hide I've had on a kite nest for several years. Don't often find the time to go in it but glad I did today - the light was perfect and the birds performed brilliantly. Here are two photos that stood out, out of the hundreds taken.

Island-hopping vacation?

Amazingly, the Wicklow-released kite which turned up on Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel has now made it to Bardsey Island off the Lleyn Peninsula where the warden, Steve Stansfield, took the attached photo earlier today.

Kite at Trawsfynnydd

I was travelling on the A.470 road north of Dolgellau yesterday afternoon (17/4/10) and saw a kite foraging next to the road. It was untagged. The map reference is SH 712305 and it was near a farm called Tyddyn-Mawr (Trawsfynydd) It was about 2 miles north from the entrance to the Coed-y-Brenin Forest Centre.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Kite seen on the Lleyn Peninsula

I've had an e-mail from a Steve Dorling who lives in Llanaelhaern near Caernarfon who says that back in around September last year he was on the end of the Lleyn Peninsula in North Wales when he saw a kite which was flying along the ridge of the coastline and seemed to be making its way across to Bardsey Island. He was at Cim farm in Cilan when he saw it. (I'm presuming this is a wandering juvenile bird).
Steve has also seen a kite at Llanaelhaern near his home about 4 months ago (I presume he means December or January) on the edge of a 200 acre pine plantation known as 'Glasfryn'.
His most recent sighting of a kite was over Llanaber just north of Barmouth on the 5th April
(I know that there are a couple of pairs in that area of Gwynedd).

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Purple 11

Whilst checking a new nest in east Radnorshire, I was able to read the tag of one of the birds probably a male. Purple 11. This bird was hatched in 2007 in a nest monitored by me not very far away.
I was not able to tell if the femaile bird was sitting.

Sitting Birds

After some barren periods without seeing kites I decided to check my established nests to check if the birds have started laying sitting. I have two nests where the female is sitting. I will check the remainder in the next couple of days.

tag sighting

Watched 2 kites in immature plumage until they landed in a big tree near Bettws Bledrws; one was tagged pink 37. Is it a local Tony?

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Herefordshire - There is More

I have today located another potential nest in Herefordshire in the centre of the county. It would appear that two untagged birds are taking up residency in a wood consisting mainly of poplars. I had to watch them for a couple of days to confirm my suspicions. They may have nested here last year but I cannot be certain. The landowner knew that last year buzzard nested in the wood but, was unaware of the presence of kite.

This is New to Me

It is claimed by a lady who keeps captive bred owls, that for the past fifteen months or so at about 11:00pm, (yes at night) a red kite perches on a nearby telegraph pole and takes the remains of her owl feed. She told me this does not occur every night but about four or five times a week.

Comments would be appreciated.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Another Nest in Herefordshire

A few days ago an ex colleague called me and asked “Do you want to watch red kite. I replied “I am.” I told him I was in Wales. He said “Would you like to see them closer to home?” Needless to say arrangements were made for a visit. He lives in a secluded area less than ten miles from the Hereford city centre.

Within minutes of my arrival, a couple of days later, two untagged adult birds were seen leaving the nearby spinney, they had been in the area for three or four weeks.

I later made contact with the landowner a retired military officer who unfortunately refused permission to access the spinney for monitoring etc.

I do have two pairs of eyes in the inside so hopefully we will get some data.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

poisons nearer to home

I was spoken to whilst perusing the dog toys in Morrison's last week and the chat got around to rats whereupon I did my lecture about 2nd generation rat poison. Yes, they said, our neighbour stopped using it after his sheepdog died having eaten a dead rat.

Re- poisoned kites in Ireland

It's damned bad news about the poisoning incidents in Ireland shooting our birds is one thing but poisoning has far more serious implications. This news would not go down well with the farmers in my area of Wales when we next ask them to release one of their 'precious' chicks for the Irish Red Kite re-introduction programme. It seems that these incidents are generally deplored by the Irish farming community. The incident concerning the dog being poisoned by Strychnine is most disturbing! With such a blase attitude to the use of poisons in Ireland which clearly presents a risk to human life as well as animal life the Irish government and the Garda should do the utmost to take the necessary steps to regulate the availability and use of the poisons in question. I hope these incidents receive maximum publicity in the country.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010


At one of my kiting hotspots near Lampeter I observed 17 kites in the air during continuous heavy rain! Most seemed to be in pairs with the most dramatic interaction involving 3 birds, 2 of which grappled talons and fell almost to the ground. In view of the weather I thought they would soon clear off to their nests and my job would be done but as is typical they seemed to melt away and apart from one pair I'm none the wiser!
My neighbouring farmer is complaining that the long winter has adversely affected his ewes resulting in fewer lambs and today it was 3.6 degrees C around Tregaron.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Coming Home?

The above photograph, taken by Nigel Dalby, is of a tagged Red Kite which was present on Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel from Mid March for at least a week and a half. The tags clearly show that the bird is one of those sent to Co. Wicklow in 2007 as part of our ongoing re-introduction project with the Golden Eagle Trust. This bird was though to be one member of a pair showing interest in breeding last year so it is a major surprise that it has turned up back on this side of the Irish sea - perhaps it got a preview at the press release below!

Poisons Continue to Threaten Reintroduction Projects

Some bad news from Ireland - The following is a press release issued on 27th March by the Golden eagle Trust

Two young Red Kites, recently recovered dead in Co. Wicklow, have both tested positive for poison in the State Lab in Celbridge, Co. Kildare. Both birds were collected in Wales by members of the Welsh Kite Trust as part of an ongoing project with the Golden Eagle Trust to restore this magnificent species to Co. Wicklow. The birds were only released last July and news of their poisoning is deeply troubling.

Although all the young kites are fitted with radio transmitters so they may be tracked, both these birds were recovered by concerned members of the public. One was recovered on a road near Aughrim and it was originally thought it may have been struck by a vehicle. The second bird was recovered in more unusual circumstances floating in the sea half a mile off Wicklow head. The bird was recovered by the crew of the Wicklow RNLI lifeboat while they were on operation off the coast of Wicklow. Both birds were submitted for post-mortem and toxicology analysis. This subsequently revealed that the in both cases the cause of death had been ingestion of Alphachloralose.

Alphachloralose, which may be purchased over the counter in many pharmacies and agricultural co-ops, has now been implicated in the poisoning of nine of the reintroduced birds, covering all three species, golden eagle, white-tailed eagle and red kite. In the UK the use of this substance is strictly regulated because of its negative effect on wildlife. In fact it is a well held belief that the continued illegal use of Alphachloralose in the UK is facilitated by the ease of sourcing the poison from Ireland. Its continued wide scale use in Ireland not only threatens our reintroduced species but must also be doing untold damage to other native species that simply goes unreported.

To-date eleven of the birds of prey that are being reintroduced have fallen victim to the illegal use of poisons. So far four different poisons have been identified in the killing of these birds, Alphachloralose, Nitroxinol, Carbofuran and Paraquat. Only one of these chemicals, Alphachloralose, is actually produced as a substance intended for the control of vertebrate species. Illegal poisoning incidents have been confirmed in all four Provinces, clearly this issue is a national issue. The Golden Eagle Trust has lodged a formal complaint with the EU commission over the Irish States failure to protect these birds, which are afforded the highest legal protection possible.

Meanwhile, further toxicology tests on the poisoned Glenveagh Golden Eagle chick, Conall, have found that this bird had also digested a lethal dose of Alphachloralose. Therefore the farmer who put out the dead stillborn or aborted lamb dosed it with both Nitroxinil (found in a liver fluke veterinary medicine) and Alphachloralose (found in rat poison). An Garda Síochána have also received a formal complaint from a member of the public who had their dog poisoned near Ballintrillick, near Gleniff Valley, north County Sligo earlier this spring. A post mortem and toxicology tests shows the dog was poisoned by Strychnine and the complaint focuses on the fact that the dog was poisoned in a fully enclosed private back garden, which the dog had not left for several days before its death. The Gardai are investigating if the Strychnine, which is lethal to humans, was thrown into the back garden where young children were playing. This type of reckless attitude and serious risk to young children is indefensible. We know the Department of Agriculture and national IFA do not condone such actions but they do have an onus to publicly condemn and tackle this type of illegal poisoning and criminality as it continues to tarnish the good name of the vast majority of farmers. The Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA) have already publicly condemned illegal poisoning.

Mervyn Sunderland of the Wicklow ICSA said “Farmers should be aware of the potential danger of killing Red Kites when using poisons and should refrain from using meat baits. The Red Kites have fit really well into the local area and it would be terrible to see anything threaten their survival here.”

James Hill, Chairman Wicklow IFA, said “I regret the poisoning of the young Red Kites, which would otherwise mature into majestic birds, a number of which I have the pleasure of observing in their natural environment in the course of my farming activities.

Unfortunately society’s aspirations for an unrealistically sanitised rural landscape where all fallen animals legally must be removed from land, militate against successful breeding programmes for birds of prey, whose success depends on an adequate food supply until small mammal populations increase to adequate levels in late spring/ early summer. The role of such birds as scavengers has been forgotten, resulting in a view that predation is their only means of survival.

Perhaps enlightened measures could be adopted in areas associated with such reintroductions which would restore balance in the winter/early spring food supply, thus reducing the perceived threat to sheep farming in these areas. Any reduction in perception would undoubtedly result in less incidents where poisoned baits would be considered necessary.”

Damian Clarke from the Golden Eagle Trust said “It is very disappointing and worrying that these birds were poisoned, especially as this poisoning occurred in the core of the Red Kite range in Wicklow. The frustrating part is that on the ground in this area I have had nothing but support and good will from the locals, farmers and shooting interests. Clearly however there are a number of people involved in farming or game rearing that are continuing to use poisons in a reckless and illegal fashion. This is completely unacceptable and I would ask that all decent law abiding members of these sectors would help us in our efforts to stamp out these illegal activities. I hope that our efforts in this area will receive the full support of the farming and hunting organisations.”

“At this time of year my job should be looking for potential breeding pairs, we hope to have our first Irish Red Kite chicks fledge this year. Instead I find myself collecting poisoned kite corpses, a repeat of this time last year”.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Hidden Delights Discovered

On Tuesday last (23rd March, 2010) I found a typical red kite territory in an area of Herefordshire that I have not visited for many years, the small triangular shaped oak woodland seemed ideal for red kite. This is close to the border with Brecknock.

I observed the vista for about ten minutes, from the other side of the valley, when a single adult kite appeared. I watched the bird for several minutes before it disappeared into the wood.
Eureka, I was sure I had found a nest site, either an old nest or a new site. I drove to the nearest farm to the woodland to speak with the landowner. When I told the tenant farmer the purpose of my visit he offered a wry smile that told me I was correct.

He informed me the birds had been there for several years and produced a number of young, he has not told anyone of their presence. Full access to the area was granted with a number of small conditions attached.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


Checking one of my sites I saw a pair, both with nest material, visiting their nest of 4 years. One had wool and one had muddy strands of grass, typical nest lining. About 100m into the wood however, I was dismayed to find this adult suspended on a few twigs, freshly deceased( no, don't do the parrot thing).
Tony came to collect it and found a full crop and no obvious wounds;probably a female. Bit of a mystery.
Today,Philip Ellis and I found a new nest site of a (probably) known pair and the land-owner said"oh, there's hundreds of them now". Well that's true but it's still one of the rarest birds in Europe having to face unknown hazards.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

A close run thing!

Today I investigated a report of a new kite nest on my patch in a wooded valley north of Machynlleth. I saw a kite gliding across the valley from the reported nest site. I became aware of a 'droning' noise which was familiar to me and it seemed to be getting louder it was that characteristic sound made by the engines of an army 'Chinook' helicopter. It seemed to be getting closer and suddenly there it was it appeared around the corner so to speak just a couple of hundred feet above me and I could clearly see the aircraft crew within. The kite had been crossing its flightpath only seconds earlier and it could well have fallen victim to the aircraft's rotor blades! As Wellington declared at Waterloo that sure was 'a close-run thing'!
Kite monitoring is never boring!

Montgomeryshire Kites

I was travelling on the A.458 between Mallwyd and Welshpool yesterday afternoon and saw 6 kites in total between Mallwyd and Llanfair Caereinion. It is so pleasing to see this number of kites in our fair County!
The other day I was watching one of my local pairs of kites at their nest site in the Machynlleth area and saw one of the birds carry a morsel of carrion onto a branch high up a mature larch tree. It tore away with relish at the piece of carrion and when I zoomed in with my scope to watch the bird I was surprised to see that it was devouring the head of a badger! I could clearly see the distinctive head markings of the badger which was draped over the branch and held firmly in the kites' talons. This is an obvious illustration that kites do obtain some of their sustenance from road kills. Well it will never find a shortage of supply from that source will it? The numbers of badgers killed on the UK roads each year must be phenomenal. The poor old badger now even the kites are turning against them! (Mm... can kites get bovine TB from badgers?!)

Monday, 15 March 2010

Pembrokeshire born and bred

Two years ago one of the first kites to be born in Pembs since their extinction c150 years ago, a female yellow 'right arrow', paired with a 2 year-old male (green p1) and built a nest which unfortunately failed. Last year, the male moved c 2 miles north to pair with an untagged female but I couldn't find a nest and it almost certainly failed early on. Yellow right arrow stayed and nested very close to her first nest with an untagged male and also failed again last year, but after a very good tip off from Janet Atkinson, a very keen observer in the north of pembs, we found the original pair back together where the male hung about last year. This isn't just kite gossip - if they nest successfully this year it will be the first known Pembs chicks to be born from kites born in the county.
Despite tagging nearly all the chicks known to be born in the county, the vast majority of nesting birds are untagged. This means that they either move in from an area which isn't well monitored eg parts of Carms or I miss loads of nests!

It didn't get as far talon grappling but an established pair of kites put considerable effort into hammering a buzzard a few days ago. One of the birds, male orange '!', actually hit the buzzard and it eventually had to flee. I think Orange '!' was tagged by Gwyn in a nest c40km away and is one of the few breeding adults of known origin within the county.

Thursday, 11 March 2010


At 1041 this morning, I observed Black Yellow 23 stripping a fox tail on a branch of a tree near Hundred House. Whilst this was happening an untagged bird arrived and took advantage of the lady! After taking a moment or two to compose herself she continued preparing lunch.

Black Yellow 23 was hatched in 2004 at Halfway, Llandovery and was seen regularly at Gigrin feeding station but has not been seen since 2008. This bird was seen about forty kilometres from the natal nest, where I believe there may have been a nest last year; it would now appear my suspicions were correct.

Kite Helicopters

At a site south of Rhayader today I watched three pairs of kites fighting over a group of trees and knocking the stuffing out of each other for well over an hour. At least twice during the proceedings two birds grabbed hold of each other by the talons and spiraled out of the sky like giant sycamore helicopters, once to crash into the tops of some nearby hawthorns. They both emerged soon after seemingly undamaged.

The (apparently) resident pair consisted a white-tagged female from a nest near Rhandirmwyn in 2002 and a male with a BTO ring only.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Black (eared?)kite

Showing well at Gigrin feeding station on Tues 9th. More the colour of the buzzards than our red kites. The leucistic kite was there also.

A Colour Ringed Bird

Mid afternoon today, I located a red kite perched in an Ash tree in the vicinity of a nest at Rhulen, Radnorshire. This bird was wearing a black colour ring FF.

Following a conversation with Tony I established the bird was ringed as one of three chicks in a nest close to the Eppynt Ranges west of Erwood in 1998. This being fifteen kilometres from the location it was observed today.
The details of the ring have not been recorded since ringing.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Patience is Rewarded

This afternoon I located six red kite in an area where I have never seen them before, Clyro Hill, less than two miles from Hay on Wye. There was a single adult bird plus five first winter birds one of which was tagged.

The weather was cold with bright sunlight but, I was always looking towards the sun as the birds quartered the fields paying particular attention to a field that had recently been used for free range pigs. The birds would frequently land in the fields but, the awful light conditions; it was like looking into slightly milky water, made the visibility poor. The tagged bird landed a number of times usually facing towards me so that I could not read the tags. On the few occasions it landed when I could see the tags, it took to the wing before I could focus my telescope. After much frustration and over two and a half hours of continual observation with binoculars and telescope, my patience was finally rewarded when I recorded black pink 29. I was pleased to identify the bird but, I was slightly disappointed as I had seen this bird previously.
This is the very same bird that I observed last Friday on the slopes of The Begwyns, about five kilometres to the south west. See my entry below.

This incident has posed a few questions:-

Was the adult bird from a nest that I have not located or was it from a known nest several miles from this location?

Are the first winter birds from unknown local nests or are they wanderers?

Friday, 5 March 2010

Two Youngsters Have Survived the Harsh Winter.

This afternoon I observed two tagged first winter birds (black pink) with an untagged adult quartering the fields on the north western slopes of The Begwyns (East Radnorshire). The birds were frequently landing in the fields and would take to the wing again before I could focus on the tags. Eventually, after much patience I was able to read the tag details.

Black pink E2 is a youngster from one of my nests located some five miles away whilst the other black pink 29 is from a nest not monitored by me.
I have now received information from Tony that Pink 29 is coincidentally from the same nest as Black/Black A in a wood near Craven Arms, Shropshire. I observed Black/Black A, a few days previous in Herefordshire, see below.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Black A in Herefordshire

Yesterday afternoon whilst looking for a breeding pair of kites in Herefordshire, I found a single sub adult bird perched in an oak tree not far from the first successful nest in the county for over one hundred and fifty years.

This bird was tagged black black A, it hatched in 2008 near Craven Arms, Shropshire.

If black A finds a mate it may build a nest in the area but, I doubt they will be successful this year.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Irish Kite Dead at Sea

Heard from Damian Clarke today that one of last year's kite chicks that was sent to Wicklow from Wales has been retrieved by a lifeboat, about 2km off the Wicklow coast! (I don't think the lifeboat was called out specially!) The bird had been recorded alive and well in the release area up until quite recently. Interesting to speculate on what might have happened but I guess we can rule out drowning whilst attempting to swim back to Wales!

Plenty of action in Llangeitho

I've been working between Llangeitho and Penuwch the last couple of days. Today I noticed a large increase in kite numbers searching the fields and gardens for food.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Tregaron kites

Orange R/orange was with Purple 59 and 8 others on fields at the Sunny Hill roost this afternoon. Adjacent field being dunged so will look again tomorrow as there will be plenty of worms.
Birds being seen in pairs all over the place and some regulars are back in their nest tree or guarding it from a nearby perch.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Talsarn in sunshine

Only a quick post really to say that as I drove past the feeding station on the way up Tychrug today, there were approximately 100-150 Kites flying in the beautiful blue sky and sunshine. I was unable to stop, s no tags noted sorry.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Pont Einon Tregaron

Orange /orange R is alive and well altho' missing several primaries from one wing. It can be found most early afternoons in the beech tree alongside the road just before the bungalow opposite the bridge coming from Tregaron direction. Flying well and hunting with several others this afternoon.
Also present were purple 55 and black H5.
At Talsarn today:red y
yellow 05; 07
green N7;F7
purple Q
black H2;
pink 08; 31;38; 45;56;

31st January, 2010 - Gigrin

I went to Gigrin yesterday, (Sunday) there was snow on the ground and a heavy snow shower. I observed the following tagged kites; they were all of Welsh origin.

Purple 52
Pink E4
Black 99
Purple 53
Black 30
Black 02
Pink 66
Purple T2
Purple T7
Black AO

Chris Wells.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Superstitious kites!

Regarding your entry below Chris perhaps the Goshawk is about again spooking the birds!

Gigrin 24th January, 2010 - What is Going On?

I went to Gigrin today! Something one had obviously spooked the birds. I arrived at 1320hrs to discover that not a single kite was perched in the trees awaiting their meal. Buzzards and corvids were sat waiting like little orphans in the workhouse awaiting the arrival of Mr Bumble and food. The kites were on the wing all over the place except Gigrin. There were more spectators than kites; most of them were on the bank to the left of the hides awaiting an appearance of the national rarity.

When the food was delivered there was the usual surge by the corvids and Buzzards and even the three Grey Heron dropped in for a snack before departing to the adjacent field. After a short while the kites arrived about less than a hundred, they were still very nervous as they swooped down for a quick feed and away they remained on the wing drifting around the periphery of the site before repeating the situation several times. They did not perch in the nearby trees.

The black kite appeared during these visits displaying to the normal high standard, then spectator numbers drastically reduced at about 1440hrs. A tick had been obtained! Chris Powell was relatively happy as the augmented spectator numbers helped him cover the increased costs involved with the higher prices caused by a shortage of meat.

The greatest spectacle was around 1600hrs when most of the visitors had dissipated, the kites returned in greater numbers circa two hundred and fifty, providing another fantastic spectacle but, still they were reluctant to perch!

What is causing this unusual behaviour? I have never experienced this previously. I was at my normal vantage point, the only one on the spectator bank.

I eventually managed to read all the tags visible, nine compared with the expected thirty plus. All were tagged in Wales:-
Purple 52
Pink 29
Pink g
Pink 66
Green 13
Black 97
Black 13
Purple 97

Chris Wells.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Black Kite at Gigrin

Apologies for the late posting of this. Chris Bird and myself ventured over to Gigrin on Sunday (17th Jan) to see if we could catch a glimpse of the black kite. It was there in all its splendour for us and the crowds. I also managed to get some photos, not upto other peoples standard i don't think, but, with my limited glass I was really pleased with the results.

On the way over there we saw a kestrel hunting on the last big bend at Cwmergyr.

So here are my efforts.

I have been working in Cilcenin this week and there are plenty of red kites around the area that have survived the cold spell.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Tregaron kites

In the beech tree at Pont Einon were 16 kites of which 6 were tagged:
purple 55
black H7
green 20 and another green which wouldn't reveal its symbol.
yellow domino 2 dots high right, low left
orange/orange R Unfortunately this old bird looks more bedraggled than the others with wet matted feathers on its upper back. It was alert and flew around when the others did but had a bit of trouble establishing a secure foothold on its twig. I shall keep an eye on it.
No sign of feeding going on in spite of the queue in the beech tree!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Two rehab birds released

Earlier today I released two rehabilitated kites from the aviaries at Gigrin. The first bird (shown above) was found grounded at Dolybont earlier this month. It was an unringed adult female and was tagged Black/Blue b on release. The other was an adult male hatched in 2001 and found grounded near Devils Bridge on 28th December, that too was tagged (Black/Blue a) on release. Both birds had recovered very quickly but were kept in until the cold spell had subsided. They were both released back near where they were found. It will be interesting to see at which nest-sites they turn up this spring.

Many thanks to the finders of these two birds for reporting them to us so promptly.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Orange/Orange R

Liz, great news that Orange/Orange R has made it through the big freeze as it isn't from Yorkshire (as its tags would initially suggest) but a real old timer from mid-Wales and is now the oldest recorded BTO ringed Red Kite! The current listed record stands at 20 years 1 month and 15 days but this bird has already exceeded that. Featured in the last issue of Boda Wennol, it was ringed on 19th June 1989 by Peter Davis & myself in a nest near Rhandirmwyn. It was picked up near Tregaron with a minor wing injury in August 2009 and after a short spell in care at our Rehabilitation Centre at Gigrin Farm was released on 27th September 2009 at Pont Einon, Tregaron (with a new set of wing-tags in their original colours). I'm really pleased to hear its still alive and look forward to trying to find where it nests so that we can keep a closer eye on it. The oldest recorded wild Red Kite ever was a German bird at 25 years and 5 months.

Tagged Kites and Ringed Raven

Thanks for the tagged kite records Elfyn. All Gigrin regulars on this occasion and from fairly local nests too - but good to have the sightings anyway. The raven is perhaps of more interest this time as there aren't that many colour-ringed ones left - despite the fact that I colour-ringed/tagged over 3,000 chicks in nests in mid Wales and Shropshire up to 1999.

I used Lime Green rings in 1997 so the bird you saw is now over 13 years old. It's still a bit short of the BTO longevity record of 17 years 11 months and 15 days though and only just over half way to the European record of 21 years and 11 months for a Norwegian Raven but its doing alright. I didn't use O or Q though (as they are easily misread) so the most likely candidate is DA which was ringed on 20th April 1997 at Llanafan near Beulah - no records for distance travelled then!

Tagged kites at Gigrin

The following tagged kites were at Gigrin yesterday (17/1/10)
Black/Purple 52, Black/Pink F6, Black/Black 34, Black/Black 98, Black/Yellow A4.
There was also a raven there with a colour ring on the the right tarsi. I think the ring was a pale green colour it was quite difficult to read the alpha/numeric symbols but it may have been 'OA' or 'QA'? Tony - over to you!
The still present black kite had obviously attracted 'birders' from all over Wales and the hides were pretty well packed by 1pm! Estimated no's of kites were 300-400. Couple of herons came down for food to.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Tregaron kites

Passing Pont Einon I stopped to note 2 tagged kites among the half dozen or so hopefuls. Altho' it was 2pm I wasn't sure that food was being put out.
BLACK/PINK 20 and ORANGE/ORANGE R shared a tree. The latter might be from Yorkshire. Any comment Tony?

Friday, 15 January 2010

Talsarn kites

What a difference a day makes...24 hours...fields miraculously green again and the nearby farmer had dumped some dung so worms a plenty. About 100 kites turned up for Susannah's rations and seemed more relaxed.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Nant-yr-arian again!

Just a quick post to say that, with the snow thawing rapidly, Caredig is now able to get around again and will be feeding the kites as normal. Lets hope that this is the end of the extreme weather and that things do ease up a bit! The kites certainly seemed more relaxed about things today and weren't as eager to grab whatever was available.

Kites at Nant -y-Arian

Today some 150 Kites appeared at feeding time - wonderful sight over the iced up lake and especially when they fought - skated on the ice to pick up any dropped morsels!

Talsarn kites

Susannah, who has been feeding kites for 10 years now just outside Lampeter, has had to ration food because of the difficulties in getting it from the Tregaron Abbattoir: the vet has not always been able to attend so no slaughtering happens plus the difficulties in getting from Talsarn to Tregaron during the worst of the weather.
The kites are so desperate for food they are swooping around her when she enters the feed area. She is putting the feed out in a long line to reduce the danger of kite on kite collisions. Over 200 kites are depending on her station so well done that girl!

Doom and Gloom!

Pretty saddening news looking at the blog this afternoon. I sincerely hope that we have not lost any birds as a result of whats happening at Nant-yr-Arian. There seems to be fewer kites around the Machynlleth area since the commencement of this bad weather perhaps they are in the Nant-yr-Arian area!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Bad News from Northern Ireland

Had an email from Rob Straughan, RSPB's Red Kite Project Officer in Northern Ireland working with ourselves and the Golden Eagle Trust on the Irish Re-introduction schemes. It seems the weather in Northern Ireland has been as severe, if not worse, than it has here and this is taking its toll on the young kites released during 2009. Rob's email read:


The situation goes from bad to worse having found a dead kite (pink 'b') yesterday evening and another this morning (pink 'f') following the one I found on Saturday morning despite trying supplementary feeding. They say bad things come in threes so I really hope this is the last of the run. Again, I don't think they were suspicious, no indication of shooting and both crops seemed empty with breast bones protruding suggesting they weren't in top condition so I didn't report to PSNI, I'll try and get these two post mortemed as well. All the birds were found at known roosts or in trees with dense cover.

I've attached photos, of each.

I haven't posted all of the photos - too depressing but the one above shows a bird in good plumage just hanging in a fir tree.

Kites @ Nant-yr-Arian

I was told today that Nant-yr-Arian was snow-bound and neither Caredig Morgan nor the FC Rangers had been able to get to the site to feed the kites for the past two days. This is obviously of great concern with so many birds relying on the expected rations. A quick telephone call to Chris Powell confirmed that he had recently been supplied with meat and could spare a bit. Soon after I collected a box of meat and headed off up the main road which was clear apart from a bit of slush, despite having up to a foot of level snow lying in the fields either side.

At Ponterwyd the odd kite started to appear in the sky and at Nant-yr-Arian somewhere in the region of 150 -200 kites were waiting patiently in the conifers. I quickly cleared a few small patches of snow in which to put the meat which was descended upon by hoards of screaming kites as soon as it touched the ground.

Far from being any criticism of Caredig or the staff at Nant-yr-Arian this event shows just what a commitment feeding the kites is. Caredig has been doing it for many years, undoubtedly helping many kite survive previous spells of bad weather. It does however show how emergency measures are essential should extreme events happen. Particularly in bad weather (either extremes of cold, wet or drought) the kites will rely on food been present and may not go elsewhere to look if it isn't! Hopefully the snowfall has finished for a while and getting around will become a little easier. We will ensure, so long as the main road remains clear, that the kites are fed daily during the remainder of the current cold spell.

Did manage to snap a couple of photos, including one of a leucistic bird, although the light wasn't good.

Also got a (not brilliant) photo of a raven standing on the frozen lake!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

news from Pembrokeshire

The cold weather has forced kites to gather near food sources, and 120 birds could be seen in the air at once during the recent spell of icy weather. Considering that kites first returned as breeding birds to the county only 7 years ago then this is a staggering figure. Included in the flock were approx 20 wing-tagged birds, all tagged by the Welsh Kite Trust but only 7 were from Pembs nests -the others were birds born at widely scattered location across Wales and Shropshire.

Monday, 11 January 2010

This afternoon there were c500 kites coming in to feed. Chris was already making his way down with the tractor when I arrived, too late to identify tags as they were all in the air. Black Kite swooped for meat and then disappeared down to the right of the hides. Spotted later circling around Brynafon GH. to the frustration of some photographers there!!.
3 herons also feeding on the ground today.

More Tagged Kites @ Gigrin

In addition to the tags recorded by Elfyn listed below, Chris Wells observed the following wing tags between 1335 and 1610:- Black/ Pink F6; Black/Black O; Black/Black 53; Black/Black N; Black/Yellow 12; Black/Black 12; Black/Green V; Black/Green L6; Black/Purple 35; Black/Pink E; Black/Orange 65; Black/Yellow A8; Black/Yellow S; Black/Green 73; Black/Green 14; Black/Black N8; Black/Yellow P1; Black/Purple A9; Black/Green *; Black/Pink PO; Black/ Yellow 38; Black/Pink L9; Black/Pink 29; Black/Purple 11.

Tagged Kites at Gigrin

The following tagged kites were at Gigrin on Saturday 9th January at 2pm.

Black/Pink 53, Black/Orange 51 (leucistic), Black/Pink L2, Black/Pink 69, Black/Purple C, Black/Pink E3, Black/Green 77, Black/Orange 42, Black/Green 14, Black/Purple 52.

Observer - Elfyn Pugh

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Kites Galore at Gigrin Farm

Dropped in to Gigrin Farm again yesterday to try to photograph the Black Kite that Dee Doody found earlier in the week. There are amazing numbers of Red Kites present at the moment due to the bad weather, hard to know just how many but certainly over 400 and probably nearer 500.

The Black Kite performed perfectly too as can be seen from the selection of images below.