Friday, 23 November 2012

Another leucistic kite on the loose!

After over 12 months in captivity leucistic kite Black/White J6 was finally released from Gigrin Farm early this morning having been cared for by a multitude of people. Special thanks to Chris and Colin at Gigrin Farm for housing and feeding him, to Megan Morris Jones and Fran at Cuan House Wildlife Rescue for transporting him back and forward to Much Wenlock. Thanks to falconer John Jones for getting it fit to fly and for Raptor Foundation and RSPB Investigations Department for their involvement last year. We very much hope to see a bit more of J6 at Gigrin over the next few months. Hopefully he will adjust to life in the wild and having to find his own dinner - although admittedly if he stays at Gigrin he won't have to look too far!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

kite at sea!

Not every day I see a kite on the beach but this one at Llanon, Cardigan Bay, is a regular. Still looks a little strange with this background!
A more typical pose is on the new 2012 Xmas card: a superb image from our Chairman, Prof Mike Hayward, of a kite soaring over the winter landscape of Cwm Mwyro near Strata Florida: see Welsh Kite Trust new website for details of how to purchase.  This location has,incidentally, been the long term home of an escaped Golden Eagle who is currently exciting visitors to the boardwalk on Cors Caron including our Patron Iolo Williams trying to make a film about it/(probably) him.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Kite vs Buzzard

Took my brother and his kids over to see the kites been fed at Gigrin last Thursday. Whilst sat in the hides watching the hundreds of birds diving in for food he expressed amazement at how they never collided. A short time late, whilst heading back home, my mobile went and it was Colin at Gigrin ringing to say they had a kite with a broken wing in the feeding area. It turns out that seconds after we left a kite stooping in for a meal had hit a Buzzard leaving after eating its! Anyone whose ever handled a Buzzard will know that they are a pretty solid bit of raptor! Anyway end result was an unfortunate kite with the outer half of its wing sticking out at not a good angle! Luckily my brother was heading back to Telford so could drop the kite off at Much Wenlock where Megan Morris Jones at Cuan House Wildlife Centre had arranged to get it checked out by her local vets. The bird was x-rayed but, as I had feared, the break was in the carpal joint, and these do not heal without causing permanent stiffening of the wing which renders the bird virtually flightless. Sadly, as our policy is one of no permanent retention, the bird was euthanised immediately .

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

That's got to be over 100 in Kite years!

We have a new longevity record for a Welsh ringed kite, at 8,723 days or about six weeks under 24 years.
HT27208 was ringed as a single chick in a nest near Ffarmers in Carmarthenshire on 17th June 1988 and was also tagged White H. It weighed 860gm, and was subsequently sexed as a female from the blood sample collected at the same time. She was found freshly dead on 5th May 2012 at near Harford which is about 9.5km SSW of where she was reared.

There is quite a long list of tag sightings in the early years. In the first winter she was seen at Ty'n-domen, Tregaron (the original Red Kite feeding station set up by Frances Evans)  (8,5km N) on nine occasions between 21st November 1988 and 1st March 1989. In the first summer she was at Cwm Ystwyth (26km NNE) on 16th May 1989  and she was recorded there again in her third winter on 14th January 1991

In her third summer she was fouind breeding near Pumsaint, 9km S of the birthplace and reared a brood of two.
She bred again at the same place in 1992, rearing a single chick. She had a new mate, a tagged bird from near Cwrt-y-cano, HT27225, also reared in 1988. She had now lost one tag. She could have bred at the same place in 1993, but if so had lost both tags, and there were no further tag readings. Of course it's now pretty obvious that she must have continued to breed in the area for many more years. This bird beats the previous longevity record by about six weeks. That was a male HW08418 which was ringed near Pontrhydfendigaid in 1968 and which died near  Tregaron, probably in mid-March 1992.

Thanks to Peter Davis for the above information. Amazingly, I can still remember tagging this bird as I'm pretty sure there was a Kestrel's nest lower down in the same tree!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


The previous post relates to an incident on 17th April.  The good news is that the bird has since been released fit and well and the surprise attack has not been repeated...yet!


I fed the kites yesterday at Bwlch Nant yr Arian and we had a great turnout of approx 100 hungry birds. There are some canada geese nesting on a tiny island between the grass feeding area and the main viewing spit of land opposite. During the feeding frenzy, one unfortunate kite got a bit too close to the island and one of the geese flew in to the kite on purpose. The kite crashed in to the lake just in front of the spectators with the goose in hot pursuit. The goose then landed on top of the kite and tried to drown it. The kite was struggling to get to the side of the lake with the goose repeatedly attempting to push it under. The attack lasted for about a minute. 
Sarah Cookson pulled the kite out and we tried to dry it off and warm it up in the foot well of my car. After an hour it didn't improve. I took the bird down to Llanbadarn Vets and left it with them. They will contact Tony Cross at some stage - hopefully the bird can make a full recovery!
Andre Marsh

Friday, 9 March 2012

Sometimes they hit the ground

At Talsarn recently Susanna witnessed at close range a kite flying into the ground at feeding time and stunning itself. It hit breast first fortunately so after a rest it recovered enough to fly off strongly so nothing broken. Susanna said it was the first ever in 15 years to misjudge the slope of the field and no, it wasn't the one-eyed one!

Kite watchers meeting Feb 26th

Tony reading his script to a rapt it was good really! Watchers met in the convivial surroundings of the Elan Valley Hotel and were kept up to date with the Trust and all its workings. Contributions from guest speakers included Steve Roberts on Honey Buzzards, always fascinating to hear plus this year he had a first class video courtesy of the BBC;those chicks are so attractive even when eating frogs' legs! Paddy Jenks also added some insights into Kestrel breeding and drew on new data from radio-tagging showing that kestrels don't even put the brakes on for improved pasture,flying straight on to any patch of tussocky grassland which unfortunately is still disappearing fast.
Other short talks were given by Leo Smith our expert in Shropshire reporting on the success of Welsh kites in England, and Chairman Mike Hayward keeping us abreast of the technicalities involved with DNA testing.
Fortunately the Welsh Kite Trust has the backing of a loyal membership and keen watchers so we can look forward to another year of caring for kites and increasingly,to monitoring other birds such as kestrels,barn owls and peregrines which are all struggling to survive intensive agriculture, rodenticides and declining prey species.

Blind in one eye but still flying White 6

Start off with my best side! This bird has been a regular at Susanna's feeding station at Talsarn and although missing a wing feather or two seems to be holding its own against the other 200 plus kites that visit. What is its history Tony? Male or female?

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Aberhosan Kite Roost

At 7.45am today there was a simultaneous 'eruption' of 25 kites from the occasional roost opposite my home near Aberhosan, Machynlleth. What a privilege to see this spectacle from my bed!

Monday, 16 January 2012

New Season

Get your kit organised kitewatchers!. My closest nest has activity there. The pair have been around for the last three days, and this a.m. I saw the male at his normal perching branch during the season, and wondered where the female was. Lo and behold she was on the nest, not only tidying up some twigs, but actually sitting. I checked again in an hour, and at this moment she is still sitting. Could be an early season?

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Meagre pickings at the kite count and where are all the tagged birds?

This weekend saw our second attempt at the Europe-wide co-ordinated winter census of Red Kites. Most other countries do their counts at communal roosts but since most of our birds roost in fairly small dispersed groups it is more realistic to have a co-ordinated count of all the main feeding stations. This time last winter, in a period of freezing weather, we managed a count of 1189 - 1326 birds. This year the mild weather meant that numbers attending the feeding stations were much lower and the total at the 6 main feeding stations was only 645 birds. The count at Nant-yr-Arian was due to thick fog rather than a near complete lack of birds! This serves to tell us only one thing, Welsh kites clearly aren't dependent on feeding stations!

Results as follows:

Name 2011 2012 Observer
Gigrin Farm 485-550 250-300 Tony Cross
Talsarn 250-300 200 Liz & Brian Snell
Nant-yr-Arian 120 1 Red Liford
Llanddeusant  58 40 John Roberts
Bow Street 115 92 Mike Hayward
Crymych 45 42 Paddy Jenks
Myddfai NC 20  
TOTAL 1189-1326 645-695  

Many thanks to all the observers who gave their time to undertake counts. The Welsh population is currently estimated at in excess of 3,000 birds so this winter's count represents only about 20% of the population. In future winters, counts will only be carried out during a period of prolonged cold weather.

Since tagging was re-started in 2002 we have wing-tagged over 2,000 young Red Kites - where the hell have they all gone?! I managed to read 11 birds in two days at Gigrin (including 1 Scottish bird), Mike did better at Bow Street with 14 tags read and John Roberts got two at Llanddeusant. I know there were more to be had but despite the huge effort expended every summer most kites nowadays are un-tagged (I can hear the photographers rejoicing from here!)

One of the few tagged kites identified at Gigrin. A 2011 chick from just over the road!