Friday, 6 December 2013

If I had a pound…..

The Tregaron Xmas Fair was another opportunity to sell kite Trust Xmas cards and 'Stuffie' (see previous post) accompanied me for a marathon 2pm to 8pm session in the refurbished Memorial Hall**  but was utterly upstaged by a toy eagle owl whose head movements and vocalisations are triggered by a movement sensor.  Uncannily these movements appear to be random and this caught the attention of young and …no I couldn't take pictures!  If I had a pound for every hoot and turn of the head I wouldn't need to sell the cards, I could give them away!  This toy owl suffered abuse from those who failed to see how it worked so it got poked, prodded, stroked and tipped ace over base….and that was just the adults present!
Fortunately, before the Duracells gave up the ghost, the Tregaron Male Voice Choir  started up with a vigorous rendition of Christmas favourites and all trooped out to see the Christmas Tree light up.
I scarpered with my many purchases of local pork sausages ( well, sort of local, seeing as the pigs came from Hungary: a curious breed of curly haired porkers called Mangalitzers) and other goodies before the children returned who wanted to take home a feather from the ever patient 'stuffie' and my owl!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Not the usual flight path!

Jenny Tillotson,President of Tregaron WI, kindly allowed the Trust to sell some Xmas cards at the fortnightly WI market in the Memorial hall Tregaron and 'Stuffie' the flying kite came along to help out…well one lady refused to enter the Hall, averse to feathers!… but others couldn't resist stroking my visual aid.
We need to sell a lot more so have a look at the website and phone,post or e-mail your orders.  Superb designs, printed and produced in Wales at £3 for 6 cards unless you want the bargain pack of mixed designs at 7 cards for £3.
If however you are in striking distance of Tregaron the big Xmas Fair will be on Dec 6th where not only can you purchase our brilliant cards but also try to win a generous prize in the simple Bird Quiz and there will be a fabulous array of cakes,jams and pickles for which the WI is rightly famed plus lots of other crafty type things.
Eat your heart out 'Bake-off'!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Welsh kite poisoned in Yorkshire

Tadcaster police and the RSPB are appealing for information after a Red Kite was poisoned in the area. The bird was found at Toulston Polo Ground, Tadcaster in October 2012, by a member of the public who contacted Yorkshire Red Kites, who in turn reported the suspected poisoning to North Yorkshire Police.
Following a post-mortem examination and forensic testing it was found to have died from the illegal poison Carbofuran, which was banned in 2001. The RSPB have offered a £1,000 reward for anyone who can provide information that leads to the arrest and charging of those responsible for the bird's death.
Between 2002 and 2011, there were 292 confirmed cases of birds of prey being killed by Carbofuran poisoning in England. PC Sarah Ward of Tadcaster Safer Neighbourhood Team said: "This crime is appalling. The use of Carbofuran is both unlawful and highly dangerous. It is highly toxic and a few granules could kill. Someone has put Carbofuran into the countryside unlawfully, risking the lives of people, domesticated animals and wildlife. I urge anyone with information to contact the police or RSPB immediately."
The Red Kite that died was hatched in Wales in 2009 and is believed to be one of a breeding pair that first bred at Tadcaster Grammar School in 2012. They are the first-known Welsh-born Red Kites to have bred in Yorkshire.
Red Kite
Red KiteHarrogate, North Yorkshire (Photo: Rob Sewell)
Bob Elliot, RSPB Head of Investigations, said: "Since their successful release back into the Yorkshire countryside in 1999, Red Kites have suffered at the hands of illegal poisoning in North Yorkshire with this incident being the twentieth poisoned Kite since 2000." Mr Elliot added: "Birds of prey are still being targeted by those intent on killing our most protected species and it is simply not acceptable to still be finding poisoned, trapped and shot raptors in our countryside."
Doug Simpson, Yorkshire Red Kites Coordinator, said: "The loss of any bird through illegal poisoning is a big disappointment. It is particularly disappointing in this case, with this kite being of Welsh origin and the first from that source known to have bred in Yorkshire."
Anyone who can help to identify those responsible for this poisoning should contact Tadcaster police on 101, select option 2 and ask for Sarah Ward. You can also contact the RSPB on 0845 4663636 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Help needed

The Kite Trust needs to sell quite a few Xmas Cards this Autumn!  If anyone out there lives in West Wales ideally within reach of Aberystwyth,Tregaron or Rhyader and would like to help us please contact me on 01974 299166 or e-mail the Trust via the website.  If you live somewhere else in Wales and have an outlet for selling cards we would most grateful if you would contact me on the above number or the WKT via the website.

We also have some OVERSTOCKS of C5 plain WHITE ENVELOPES.  If anyone has a use for these they are available at a very special price.  Phone me on 01974 299166

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Back to kites

At the moment kite watchers are anxiously checking the nests for chicks.  Most are quite small being a late season and on my patch a couple of regularly successful pairs have failed at a late stage; annoyingly I have no idea why and unlike my blue tits there are no nestcams looking down on them.
Yesterday I gained permission to enter a local oakwood  and looking up through the sunlit leaves I could clearly see a large brown raptor hard at work: a shower of  black feathers indicated that a chick was going to be fed 'corvid tartare'. Unfortunately the bird in the kite nest had the wrong shaped tail and the nest was ringed with fresh oak heart sank as I realised the aerial battle I'd seen in April had been won by the buzzard.
Just at that moment a familiar whistling flew in on my left and grew more persistent as I quickly legged it up the slope; yes, result!  A downy kite chick in a new nest not far away from buzz.  Dilemma: adult whistling itself hoarse and landowner in the farmyard not 200m away...will he be cross about the disturbance?  I didn't stop to scope it for a better look even though I really needed to check whether the other whitish blob in the nest was a dead 2nd chick or sheep's wool judging it better to make a quick and clearly seen exit for the benefit of both bird and farmer's feelings!
Some kites make a lot of noise during nest visits and some don't; the recorded evidence is that kites change nest locations after a failure to bring up a chick or having lost a partner or if the tree and/or immediate surroundings have altered or even, as in this case, another bird such as buzz or raven has taken over the nest.  Many nests where the chicks have been regularly  ringed and tagged have remained in use for years indicating that purposeful visits are tolerated; in this instance,however,I judged brevity was the best course of action.  15 mins from gate to wood and back to gate.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Scottish kite nr Aber!

Gareth Jones, mammal expert and tag reader spotted a single tagged kite among a dozen or so hunting over  freshly cut silage : PURPLE on the LEFT wing ! White on the right. T6 was the code. My out of date kite tag guide says this is Aberdeen's colour code.
Will post further details when I can get them.
Silaging provides good opportunities for tag reading as they fly slow and low over the fields.  Gareth also reported the kites standing on the ground with wings partly spread as though sun-bathing.  This is I think fairly unusual...anyone out there with any experience of this?

Monday, 17 June 2013

Unashamed advert for Hungarian Raptorfest!

We have just returned from Hungary and these pics of a red footed falcon and kestrel colony are to show what is possible if you book a unique photo hide tour with Ecotours based in Hungary.  As raptor enthusiasts it was sheer joy to be party to 5 hours of life with these beautiful birds albeit starting at 5am.  The kestrel pics are especially to cheer up Paddy: there are hundreds of kestrels on the Puszta  just 2 hours from Budapest and for this experienced pair of birds no shortage of food, the chicks were fed 2 voles and a huge green lizard in quick succession and as you can see you don't even need to put up a straight box!
The light was poor (Hungary,unusually has endured a cold wet Spring) and the hide draughty but it was non-stop action from the birds which also included breeding Rollers,Golden orioles and Long eared owls!  We couldn't however take our eyes off the red foot female who is a real beauty, no wonder the males are so willing to share parental duties though both sitting in the box before an egg is laid is going a bit far!
Bri has just started photography so if you are an expert you can see the possibilities here and if you just like watching bird behaviour then this is a must.
The off-road drive to the hide was quite exciting plus climbing into the hide!  Elf and safety? I trusted in Istvan Bartol, warden of the Kiskunsagi Nemzeti National Park, he built it!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Tagged kites

2 tags read on Monday in a valley near TalyBont: V5 white and 72 dark blue.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Purple 55

Visiting a very long established nest site in a valley with at least 3 pairs in close proximity, one of the landowners told me her regular kite visitor for scraps during the icy conditions of the last few weeks carried the tag Purple 55 so a bird from 2007 and one of the likely breeders in the valley. 
I spent a happy couple of hours watching the territorial jousting and posturing of the 'neighbours' and will have to go back to see if they both manage to nest successfully.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

you never know what you might see....

A beautiful morning here in west Wales ( although the ground is frozen and that east wind is still blowing) so I ventured onto my Kite patch to view some courtship and cruising over the lambing paddocks.  Farmers on the edge of the hills still lamb at traditional times i.e. late March and in the open which gives the chance of some tasty after-births being available plus the sheep churn up the ground allowing some all-important worming.  I was enjoying great views of 4 pairs of kite and a tagged interloper performing against the snowy hills when flying towards me was a long-winged raptor without a forked osprey flew low overhead and onwards to the NE, perhaps going to one of the Welsh nest sites.  Several have been seen recently in Ceredigion and its possible the east winds have pushed them further west than usual or we might be their preferred flight path.  If my photographer hadn't been detailed to make some emergency nestbox front panels (great spots damage) I might have been able to post a pic.

Apologies for truncating the photos on the post below: visit for full pics.

Kites at Gigrin

Counting Kites

With the cold weather putting stop to most activities, a trip to Gigrin seemed to be in order to check on the number of Kites visiting, and to try and read as many wing-tags as possible. The most effective way of getting the tag numbers seems to be, by taking photographs. After a very cold hour in the hide, we managed to come away with 19 different tagged birds.

****UPDATE ****

We went to Gigrin again today (27th March) and read 34 tagged birds making a total of 44 individual kites over the two days. The oldest bird was 17 years old and the breakdown of the ages of the others were as follows;

1996 - 1
2003 - 2
2004 - 4
2005 - 1
2006 - 3
2007 - 2
2008 - 5
2009 - 7
2010 - 4
2011 - 13
2012 - 2

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Sad find

Bri is 168cm
The road from Pontrhydfendigaid to Aber is not very busy so traffic flies along relying on an empty road only this time there was something in the way...a red kite.  This pic is to show its size and the left wing is not even straight out! The minimum wingspan quoted in BWP is 195cm.
I think it looks a bit pale so is it a immature bird Tony?
Its middle toe excluding claw was 30mm: male?
It has been taken for analysis to check for poisons which can impair its reaction time thus making it more liable to be biffed by a vehicle.
I also removed a couple of feathers for WKT's on-going DNA study.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Irish kite on Ramsey Island

Greg and Lisa, RSPB wardens on Ramsey Island off the coast of Pembrokeshire,have just reported a blue/white tagged kite on the island.  This will be one of the 2011 chicks from Wales but without the tag symbol we can't say from which release site but certainly its from Ireland. Not the first Welsh kite to come back!
If you are a birdblog reader then the blogs from all four Welsh islands are excellent, Skomer,Skokholm, Ramsey and Bardsey.
Skokholm has set up Heligoland traps and is about to be re-instated as a Bird Observatory.  It was the first in the UK set up in 1933 by the famous Ronald Lockley, but was closed down in 1976.
All the islands except Ramsey offer accommodation in the summer and the experience cannot be rated highly enough as this Irish kite attests!  

Friday, 15 March 2013

Kite tag

A walk around Tyn y Craig plantation to view the Ystwyth valley from above brought me adjacent to a small upland mire being contested by a pair of buzzards and a pair of kites.  Fortunately they didn't get aggressive but clearly boundaries were being marked and claim laid to a patch of suitable trees.  Through the scope I could read the tag as one kite briefly touched down in the marshy grassland; it subsequently flew around examining the grasses clutched in its feet.  They all looked spectacular sunlit against a lightly snow- dusted landscape of hills and woods.
Royal Blue 08

Sunday, 3 February 2013

The Welsh Kite Trust was pleased and honoured to host the annual meeting of the UK and Ireland Red Kite Co-ordination Group last Thursday at the Brynafon Hotel adjacent to Gigrin Farm, Rhyader.  Unfortunately our Scottish colleagues couldn't make the journey but Dr Marc Ruddock and Adam McClure arrived from Ireland together with representatives from the Chilterns, East Midlands and Shropshire. We were especially pleased to welcome Ian Carter, renowned kite expert, from Natural England.
The breeding season report, published in full in Boda Wennol (Issue 27 Autumn 2012), was discussed and below is the map summarising current breeding status for those non-members of WKT.  It was of course a poor breeding year given the awful weather experienced during critical times in the nesting cycle and followed two very harsh winters which resulted in reduced productivity in all areas.

There followed a roundup of other threats experienced in the regions which identified accidental secondary poisoning by highly toxic second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides and lead as major problems. The rodenticides are ingested when feeding on rodents killed by poison and, being persistent, can build up to lethal levels. In some cases, the poisons used are so toxic that just a single rodent body may be enough to deliver a lethal dose. Publicity campaigns to encourage the use of alternative methods of rodent control and to use poisons with care have been undertaken to try to minimise the dangers. The recent widespread use of slug pellets in fields has also shown up in post-mortem analysis as these are attractive to other birds such as pigeons which are then scavenged when dead by kites and other animals.

Secondary poisoning by lead occurs when Red Kites scavenge on pest or game species that have been killed by lead ammunition, mainly from shotgun cartridges. A recent study found that 14% of Red Kites found dead in England had lead levels in their tissues sufficient to have caused their death. Whilst lead has been banned from use over most wetlands and for killing waterbirds it remains in common use in terrestrial habitats with consequences that are largely unseen unless specific studies are undertaken. It was agreed to ask Natural England to pursue this issue with the government and for lead poisoning to be added to the list of tested for poisons at post mortem.

Dr Rob McMahon then gave a most lucid explanation of the DNA research being undertaken at Aberystwyth University with a student funded by the Welsh Kite Trust, which has thrown up a host of further interesting lines of enquiry.

After a hurried but tasty lunch interval we hastened up the lane to watch feeding time at Gigrin which never fails to impress...thank you Chris and staff at Gigrin Farm.

Reconvening to tie up loose ends it was widely agreed that it was important to keep up kite monitoring, despite funding and manpower difficulties in many areas, and that there was still a need to fight the corner for what remains one of the world's rarest birds.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

That ain't helpful!

Just had a call from Chris Griffiths of Montgomeryshire Barn Owl Group who informed me that one of its members, Rowland Pugh, watched a Goshawk take a Red Kite clean out of the sky at Tre'ddol near Aberystwyth, yesterday. Apparently there was absolutely no competition - why doesn't that surprise me! Hope it doesn't make a habit of it!