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.