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.

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