Monday, 12 September 2011

White Kite J6 goes east!

Just had an email and follow-up telephone conversation from Mick Todd a raptor re-habilitator in Lincolnshire who has just taken delivery of Black/White J6. This leucistic kite featured in the last but one post having been released at Gigrin Farm on 19th August. On Friday 9th September it turned up in Freestone near Boston, Lincolnshire (254 kms from where it was released).  It was found uninjured but exhausted and hungrily devouring a dead cat!  Plans are being made to get it back to Wales to be released at some future date.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Can you count to four!

In 25 years of climbing to kite nests I've never had the opportunity to test that out on chicks before! It has finally happened! A nest near Llanidloes, monitored by Dee Doody, has become the first nest to my knowledge in Wales ever to rear four chicks - well I say rear! In what may seem a bit of a harsh act, the three youngest were collected on behalf of the Irish re-introduction scheme. I would have dearly loved to have left all four to fledge in Wales but we were having great difficulty finding nests with more than one! Anyway, most kite pairs in Wales only produce a single chick and if you are going to found a new population it is best to use the best genetic stock you can get!

Rehab Release

The wet kite mentioned in an earlier post by Liz made a speedy recovery and was released from Gigrin Farm on 19th August, along with its rather off-colour cell mate! The pale kite is the second youngster with such abnormal colouring we know to have been reared this year. The other was ringed as a chick in a nest near Llanddeusant. Both kites flew off very strongly, adding to the increasing numbers turning up at Gigrin now that the breeding season is over.

The wet kite posing on a fence post at Gigrin Farm, just prior to flying off.

The pale cell-mate, similarly posed!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

wet kite

The wet kite which was recovering in the pen at Gigrin is now flying strongly so Tony will tag,ring and release shortly. As it is a young one it is best off in the Gigrin area so it can feed easily.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

wet kite

Several young birds have been picked up lately suffering from wet plumage and general weakness. Fortunately those involved have fed and sheltered the birds until ready for release or transfer to Gigrin farm's pen. One I took in, couldn't wait to get at the scraps, kindly provided by Mr Thomson, though when released into the pen it couldn't fly properly so I was glad it was safe and would be able to gain strength.
Many first year birds face huge perils and the drop-out rate should keep us all on our toes; just because we see hundreds at feeding stations it doesn't necessarily mean the battle to save the Red Kite is over.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

kites on Springwatch

I haven't been able to watch every programme but did see our Leader, Tony Cross, put in an appearance up an oak tree (his natural habitat at this time of year). As usual the young kite was quite compliant and was rewarded with the smoothing down of its feathers so it looked appropriately smart for national tv, sporting S for Springwatch. Tony of course made no such concession to celebrity status and looked his usual sartorial self!
Unfortunately I heard no mention of the Welsh kite trust but I may have missed that in an earlier introduction?

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Celebrating the kite's success

It was nice to hear Bill Turnbull announce on BBC breakfast TV this morning the remarkable recovery of the Red Kite in Britain in the last couple of decades which now number around 2,000 pairs. This, it was said, was all down to various conservation projects and the re-introduction programme. The information came from the 'R.S.P.B.' (I hope someone down the line mentions the cooperation of hundreds of farmers and landowners too! The 'real' unsung 'heroes' in the overall picture). Let's hope the 'Osprey' can make a similar recovery (Mmm..... I wonder if I stick a pole and nesting platform in my field I can catch the attention of some of those birds which 'linger' around the Clywedog reservoir area!)

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Nest Finding

I agree with Liz, this year kites seem very reluctant to settle down to egg-laying. Having one nest which I can observe from the house, although the pair have been here since Jan 11, they have done everything but settle on the nest, they even roost within 10m of the nest. Checked 6 other nests, pairs at each one but not found sitting. Potentially, 4 other pairs in the area, but no clue given to where the nest is as yet. Buds are sprouting on the trees, so getting short I think.

Bryan Jones

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

I agree with the previous comments made by Liz.

Yesterday, Monday, I observed for about an hour at each of seven nests in the east of Radnorshire, I only saw three birds! Kites here appeared to be rarities, if, I did not know kites had nested in these areas last year I would not have spent time observing these locations

It did make me wonder if the nests are still active or has the harsh winter reduced numbers in this part of the principality? Only time will tell.

Moving some miles south west I did, however, have some success. I was able to locate a nest in an area where I saw birds last year but, was unable to locate the nest site. Having obtained the required permission the landowner informed me they had nested in that wood last year. A bonus for me is one of the pair is a tagged bird (not read).

Saturday, 26 March 2011

News and no news

Followers of this blog who are not kite nest monitors might be wondering why there is a deafening silence at one of the most exciting times of the kiting year!
Well, everyone is busy trying to find the current nest locations which entails a lot of travelling about in the fringe areas and a lot of patient watching in the core Ceredigion area. I found 3 new nests this morning which looked as if they were built last year so that answers some questions about the kites that went 'missing' in 2010! Unfortunately for me the kites are still spending most of the day hunting or sitting in nearby trees and thus don't yield the secret of their nest site readily.
Kites sit in the body of the tree and being slim and long they easily blend with the branches whereas crows and buzzards mostly sit on prominent points. Any kite watcher will tell you how adept they are at suddenly appearing as if from nowhere and disappearing just as quickly! If you have only seen kites at the feeding stations then it is quite a different experience to watch their behaviour from your perch on the side of a hill especially in the sunshine we have had lately.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Dead kite Feb 26th

Yes, we have found a dead kite in a field just up the lane, too decomposed to send in for analysis and without ring or tag. I suspect it is one of our local pair as I've only seen one lately. Will this mean a new nest site? You bet!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Dead Kite

A Mr. David Evans from Forge, Machynlleth reported to me today that he had found a dead and badly decomposed kite on the hillside behind his house on Monday 28th February 2011. He has disposed of the dead bird. He said it was not fitted with a ring or tags.

Saturday, 19 February 2011


On Thursday, 17th February, I again went to roost site near Painscastle, and came away with an opinion that confirms my view that you not second guess nature.

Expecting to see a dozen or so birds I once counted six in the air that drifted away to the north. These were eventually replaced by three single birds as the light was fading. One of these was the Black Black L3 as sighted the previous week.

Black L3 was hatched in 2008 as the youngest of three chicks, probably a male, near Bishops Castle, Shropshire. This being some forty six kilometres from the night roost. Black L3 has been seen twice previously, both by Tony Cross, in November, 2008 at Gigrin Farm Feeding Station.

Unlike my previous visit, the birds roosted in the wood I first suspected to be the roost site, not on the other side of the valley.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Patience = Result But With a Twist.

I have had an inkling for some time that there was a Red Kite roost site in my east Radnorshire patch but, when I went to check I failed to find positive proof. Two or three birds would be present in the area - these would always disappear before it got dark. On one occasion a single bird remained and spent the night in the wood.

Yesterday, 10th February, I went on a grey day with leaden skies and intermittent drizzle to observe the possible site. There were eight birds floating around perching for a short while on nearby hawthorn trees that before resuming to the wing, this enabled me to read two tags. Pink E2 (2009) hatched some 6 kilometres to the North West and Black L3 (2008) (details are in the post Confused) This is not a bird from one of the nest in my areas.

At about 4:230pm the intensity of the rain increased and the birds disappeared out of sight into the low cloud over the hill.

I returned to the location near Painscastle today where I was only to see birds intermittently. The birds from two known nests on the opposite side of the valley were showing but, there was little evidence to support my theory concerning a possible roost. The resident birds would drift towards and over their respective sections of woodland and return to the possible roost and beyond.

I was close to conceding defeat but, determined to prove or disprove my theory I remained as the skies darkened. It was now after 5:00pm, eleven Common Buzzard were in the air, these were joined by a single Red Kite, then another, then another. Then, I realised the numbers were not increasing as more and more Kites joined the party. The Buzzard numbers were reducing as the kite numbers increased! These raptors for a minute or two were engulfed by a flock of Jackdaw, the corvids went their own way down the valley.

There were ten red kite floating over the woodland surely they would soon drift down and find perches in the woodland. Twice a single kite went into the wood, perched and almost immediately came back out. Had I found the roost?

The ten kites were gliding around gradually gaining height above the wood. Then, one of the birds peeled away heading in my direction followed by another, then another. I had seen this situation many times in the Middle East as the European raptors rise from the overnight roosts in the mornings during their southerly migration to Africa.

I observed the birds drifting in Indian file across the valley and disappear into the wood occupied last year by one of the resident breeding pairs.
I had found the roost but, not where I expected it to be.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Another Roost Visit

I had a disappointing time at the roost Tuesday (9th February,) there were only thirteen (13) birds in the roost that included one tagged bird Black G and one other adult. There were eleven (11) sub adult birds.
Presumably, the tagged birds observed previously have either returned to their breeding territories or found alternative roosting areas. Ornithology is not an exact science.
As is frequently the case, the disappointment had already been offset by watching a displaying pair of Goshawk prior to reaching the vantage point to observe the roost.
Shortly afterward leaving the roost site, a pair of Tawny Owls observed perched on a branch sticking out from the hedgerow was a bonus.

breeding pairs

Since Jan 8 the pair close to the house have been in attendance on an every other day basis , which by 28th became a daily event. Since 2 Feb they have been roosting close to the nest also, and Tuesday the 8th I observed the pair repairing and adding to the nest. On this basis I visited 2 other nests and found pairs either perched near to and flying close to their nests. This is some 2 weeks earlier than what I have observed in the past. The 3 pairs are old hands not first year pairs. Indication of an early breeding season or something else?

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

An Update

Further to the previous posting concerning the locating of a Herefordshire roost, today, 2nd February, 2011, I again visited and observed seventeen (17) birds. Three of these were tagged in the Principality.

They were Orange 30, Black G and Orange 59.

Orange 30 was observed previously as were the details earlier in the blog.

Orange 59 was ringed in John Roberts' patch in June 2005 at Llanddeusant. The bird has not been reported since leaving the natal nest.

Black G was ringed also in John Roberts' patch in June 2008 near Crai, Sennybridge. The bird has not been reported since leaving the natal nest.

Another First in Herefordshire

Following the receipt of an email last week advising that a number of birds were seen together late in the afternoon, I have located the first known roost site in Herefordshire. It is located fairly close to the border with Shropshire.

I first located the roost in a row of trees on Sunday, 30th January, 2011, when fifteen (15) birds were located but, I was unable to read any of the three tags seen.

I must thank Barney and Tom for passing on the information that helped me to locate the roost.

I returned the following day when I was able to read three tags from a different vantage point. The tags all of Welsh origin were orange h, orange 30 and black A5.

I know all about orange h as it hatched in 2005, being one of two chicks by the pair that nested the previous year (2004) for the first time in Herefordshire since the mid 1850’s. This brood was in a different nest to that used by the adults the previous year. The roost is about eight (8) kilometres from the natal nest.

The bird found a female mate and in 2007 they reared two chicks near Craven Arms, Shropshire, in 2008 they reared three and 2009 reared three. In 2010 female died on eggs.

Orange 30 was reared from a brood of two near Tregaon in 2005; there have not been any sighting reports since leaving the natal nest.

Black A5 was reared in 2008 near Machynlleth; also there have not been any sighting reports since leaving the natal nest.

These sightings raise a number of questions, where have these two birds been since leaving the nest?

Will orange h find a new mate and nest in the same area?

Has orange 30 nested in one of the two English counties and if so where?

Will black A5 remain in the general area and find a mate and make a nest?

Will other tagged birds visit the roost site?

Only time and many hours of observations may reveal the answers.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Kite Count

At approx. 14oo hrs on Sunday the 9th, 3 kites were above the Northern escarpment of the Epynt, and around 30 mins. later a pair were on their territory on Southern edge of the Epynt.

It must be a deliberate mistake by Tony re: dates as I don't think he's a mystic!!!!!!

Bryan Jones

Sunday, 9 January 2011

1st All-Wales Winter Kite Census

As previously mentioned, this weekend was the first attempt at an all-Wales co-ordinated kite count at all the known feeding stations. Counts being done elsewhere in Europe have focused on communal roosts, but roosts here are generally small and well-dispersed so this isn't practical.

Counts at the major feeding stations were as follows;

Gigrin Farm 8th Jan. 360 (Tony Cross & Richard Barrett)
Gigrin Farm, 9th Jan. 485 - 550 (Tony Cross & Chris Wells)
Nant-yr-Arian, 9th Jan. 120 - 130 (Red Liford)
Bow Street, 8th Jan. 115 (Mike Hayward)
Pont Einon, Tregaron 8th Jan 91 - 100 (Liz & Brian Snell)
Talsarn, 8th Jan. 190 (Terry & Sue Reeves)
Talsarn, 9th Jan. 250 - 300 (Liz & Brian Snell)
Llanddeusant, 9th Jan. 58 (John Roberts)
Near Sennybridge (Roost) 9th Jan. 14 (John Roberts)
Near Crymych, 9th Jan. 45 (Paddy Jenks)
Ysbyty Ifan, 9th Jan. (Roost) 1 (Rhodri Dafydd)
Bala, 9th Jan. (Roost) 0 (Dafydd Roberts)

The all-Wales total therefore was 1189 - 1326.

The Welsh Kite Trust recently estimated the Welsh population to be around 3,000, 2,000 breeding birds and at least 1,000 none breeding birds. These results show the importance of feeding stations to the kite in Wales. If counts had been conducted during the worst of the winter weather in mid-December I have no doubt they may have been at least 50% higher with nearly 50% of the Welsh population visiting one or other of the feeding stations on any given day!

Gigrin Farm – 8th January, 2011 - Census Day 2

This visit to Gigrin Farm coincided with the first co-ordinated count of kites at all the known feeding stations in Wales.

I arrived early (1o’clock), expecting see dozens of kites perched like candles on a Christmas tree whilst awaiting the arrival of the food. How wrong I was. In fact there were two or three hundred already on the wing floating like leaves in the breeze to the north of the feeding area.

Before the food was distributed I was joined by Tony Cross with the numbers of birds having increased to about three hundred and fifty.

At 2.00pm Chris Powell delivered to the food to the feeding where numbers of expectant kites had increased to between four hundred and fifty and five hundred birds all converged in and around the feeding area swooping down to the ground to take a morsel of meat. Tony will hopefully have a more detailed count of the numbers present when he examines the series of rapid fire photographs he had taken.

We took the opportunity to record the wing tagged birds present and the details are below:-

Black/Blue: H1; 57; 68;

Black/black: a; H4; JO; 93; 77;

Black/yellow: 12;

Black/orange: 29; 51;

Black/purple: V3; 53;

Black/Green: L;

Also present in addition to the leucistic Black/Orange 51 there was the even paler untagged bird.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Co-ordinated Count at Welsh Feeding Stations

This weekend, 8th/9th January, we will be attempting the first co-ordinated count of kites at all the known feeding stations in Wales to take place at 2pm. Counts will be done by both estimating numbers present but also by a series of rapid fire photographs of the feeding area soon after feeding has taken place. This census will tie in with co-ordinated communal roost counts taking place in other European Countries where kites winter. If anyone has counts of kites at 2pm on either Saturday 8th or Sunday 9th away from a feeding station but still within Wales we would be very pleased to hear