Posts Tagged ‘Red Kite’

Red Kite

Posted: June 26, 2017 in Birds, Natural History
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It is amazing to remember that when I started watching wildlife back in the 1980’s the Red Kite population had reduced to less than 20 birds in one area of West Wales. This was largely down to persecution and ignorance. Tales abounded about Kites taking all sorts of prey including sheep and small animals. In fact there live on carrion (that is meat that is already dead) and worms. Occasionally they may take small mammals such as mice and rats but scientific studies have shown that they cannot handle anything larger unless it is already dead.

 

 

From these dark days of the 1980’s when many presumed the species would die out in the UK due to in-breeding the picture has changed dramatically. A program of re-introductions into different parts of the country has been very successful and there are now reckoned to be around 2000 breeding pairs in the UK. These attractive birds can now be seen and enjoyed in many parts of the country.

These pictures were taken in Wales recently at the Nant yr Arian feeding station.

Naturelog: 4th June

Posted: June 15, 2017 in Birds, Ceredigion, Natural History, UK, Wales
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Day 4 of my trip to West Wales began at Ynys-hyr RSPB reserve where we were looking for Wood Warbler. In an area which earlier in the summer had held 5 singing males, we drew a blank. Near the visitors centre, we located a Pied Flycatcher nest and watched as the male and the female brought food back to the nest.

Pied Flycatcher (m). Photo by Andy Morffew (https://www.flickr.com/photos/andymorffew/)

Moving onto Cwm Clettwr, another woodland reserve we finally located a Wood Warbler, which gave a magnificent display of singing and of the fluttering butterfly-like flight as it returned to its nest in the undergrowth – something none of us had seen before.

Cwm Clettwr

Wood warbler. Photo by Hana Knutsson (https://www.flickr.com/photos/127787488@N03/)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our next stop was Nant Yrarian, where the local Red Kites are fed. This has two purposes – one to supplement the natural food available in times of shortage and thus maintain a healthy population and secondly as a way of introducing the public to the wildlife around then. It is quite a spectacle and we estimated that at feeding time there were about 150-200 present.

Red Kites over feeding Station

Red Kite

Red Kite

Red Kite

 

Our final stop of the day was the area around the Rheidol Power Station. Here we found Dipper, Grey Wagtail and Common Sandpiper – all birds associated with upland river and streams.

River Rheidol from Rheidol Power Station.

Waterfalls on River Rheidol above Power Station

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Common Cuckoo [sp] (Cuculus canorus)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Willow Warbler [sp] (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
European Pied Flycatcher [sp] (Ficedula hypoleuca)
White-throated Dipper [sp] (Cinclus cinclus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus)
Common Redpoll [sp] (Carduelis flammea)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Day 3 of my trip to West Wales began with a trip to Newquay Harbour where we had great views of Bottle-nosed Dolphins off the breakwater. There were also a group of Gannets fishing the waters beyond the harbour entrance.

Bottle-nosed Dolphin breaks the surface off Newquay

The next stop was the cliffs above Newquay where we enjoyed excellent views of the nesting Guillemots and Razorbills. Whilst watching these a Chough flew by and further along the cliff top we were found two birds on the cliff tops.

Cliffs above Newquay

Razorbills nesting on cliffs

Chough

Chough

Also present were Fulmer, Kittiwakes and a family of Ravens. As we were preparing to return to the car, we heard a Grasshopper Warbler calling from scrub nearby. It took about 20 minutes but eventually, we found it in a scrub bush and we all had a good view (a first ever for me!).

Grasshopper Warbler. Photo by Sergey Yeliseev (https://www.flickr.com/photos/yeliseev/)

After a break for lunch, we went onto Cors Caron, a peat bog near Tregaron. Our target bird was Hobby but although we recorded Raven, Buzzard and Red Kite, there was no sign of a Hobby. We did get a good view of Whinchat and Stonechat perched in the small scrub bushes that grow in the bog.

Cors Caron NNR

Buzzard

 

 

Red Kite

 

 

Northern Fulmar [sp] (Fulmarus glacialis)
Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus)
European Shag [sp] (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Murre [sp] (Uria aalge)
Razorbill [sp] (Alca torda)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Red-billed Chough [sp] (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Northern Raven [sp] (Corvus corax)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Common Grasshopper Warbler [sp] (Locustella naevia)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Eurasian Nuthatch [sp] (Sitta europaea)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Common Redstart [sp] (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Eurasian Rock Pipit [sp] (Anthus petrosus)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Butterflies

Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)

 

Arrived in Aberystwyth, West Wales at Lunchtime to meet up with local birder John Davis, who is my guide for the next few days and two other visitors, Jen and Karen. Our first stop is Ynyslas at the mouth of the Dyfii estuary.

Ynyslas. Photo by Alex Jane (https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexjane/)

As we walk down to the estuary we survey the surrounding fields as there have been a number of good birds found here in the past few days. There is a large group of Canada Geese but nothing else and then I see two white birds making their way through the undergrowth in a distant field – it is 2 of the group of Cattle Egrets that have been around. Even at this distance, we can see the beautiful breeding plumage.

Cattle Egrets -Ynyslas

After watching them for a period we make our way down to the estuary, but there is quite a lot of disturbance and not many birds are seen apart from a Red Kite, a Little Egret and a single Oystercatcher.

Red Kite

We make our way back the way we have come and were delighted to see 4 Cattle Egrets in a much nearer field and giving much better views than before.

Cattle Egrets -Ynyslas

Our attention is drawn away by a white-headed gull in the field as an American Ring-billed Gull has been seen in the area, but this turns out to be a Common Gull (not a common summer sighting in this area).

Clarach Bay

Our next stop was at Clarach Bay where as we climbed onto the cliff-top we found a pair of Wheatear along with Red Kite, Meadow Pipit and Linnet.

Northern Wheatear. Photo by Michael Bamford (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mfmb_bentley/)

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Mew Gull [sp] (Larus canus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Willow Warbler [sp] (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Northern Wheatear [sp] (Oenanthe oenanthe)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Small Tortoiseshell [sp] (Aglais urticae)

This morning saw Keith and I on our way to Staines Reservoir on the western edge of London. The reservoir, a large body of water divided by a central causeway, lies adjacent to Heathrow Airport. Our targets were wintering Great Northern Diver and Black-necked Grebes for which this is the only regular site in the London area.

Staines Reservoir (North)

Staines Reservoir (North)

Arriving at the eastern end of the causeway we begin to scan the large expanse of water and soon begin to get the common species. We have good views of Goldeneye and Wigeon which seem to be present in good numbers.

Goldeneye

Goldeneye

Wigeon and Coot on side of Reservoir

Wigeon and Coot on side of Reservoir


From about half-way along the causeway Keith locates the diver on the western shore-line moving towards the causeway. Hopefully by the time we get to the western end it will have come closer to us. Our attempts at finding the Black-necked Grebe are fruitless and after a while we can no longer locate the diver either. Some other birders say they may have seen it fly off, perhaps disturbed by the workmen on the reservoir edge.

We make it to the western end of the causeway and scan the Little Grebes which tend to congregate here in case a Black-necked is amongst them but with no luck. We decide that rather than returning back across the causeway we will take a walk around the adjacent King George VI reservoir to an area known as Staines Moor. Although you can not enter the reservoir area a footpath runs around the base of the bank giving access to the land which lies between the reservoir and the M25 London orbital motorway.

Staines Moor

Staines Moor

As we approach the northern end of the Reservoirs, I see a bird of prey circling above the road. Imagining it to be a Common Buzzard, I am surprised when I get my binoculars on it and find it is in fact a Red Kite (A London first sighting for me). Keith is quicker off the mark with the camera and manages to get a shot of it before it drifts off out of sight over the reservoir edge.

Red Kite

Red Kite

Our walk around the north and down the west-side of the reservoir adds a number of woodland and grassland species including Redwing, Song Thrush, Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tit.

Staines Moor

Staines Moor

We turn to retrace our steps back to Staines Reservoir and one last look as we re-cross the causeway to make our way home. Keith quickly re-locates the diver, now in the middle of the reservoir and giving much closer views (although still too far for photographs). We continue to observe it from a number of points as we cross.

Great Northern Diver (taken at Staines 2012)

Great Northern Diver (taken at Staines 2012)

Just before we reach the eastern end, Keith finds 2 Black-necked Grebes mid-way between the causeway and the southern edge of the reservoir and we watch them for a while.

Zampullin cuellinegro - Podiceps nigricollis - Black-necked Grebe - Cabussó coll-negre
Black-necked Grebe in winter plumage
Photo by Ferran Pestana (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ferranp/)

Then it is time to head back to Stanwall to begin our journey home.

Once again an excellent days birdwatching!

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Goldeneye [sp] (Bucephala clangula)
Great Northern Loon (Gavia immer)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Black-necked Grebe [sp] (Podiceps nigricollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull [sp] (Larus canus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Goldcrest [sp] (Regulus regulus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Eurasian Rock Pipit [sp] (Anthus petrosus)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Have been away at a meeting in Oxford all week so not much opportunity to spend time watching nature. Did manage to complete at least one butterfly count each day for Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly count, which runs to the end of this week. The lovely thing about these 15 minute counts is that you can do them wherever you are and you don’t need a lot of time to complete them, so they fit into a lunchtime or a coffee break. You just have to spend 15 minutes watching for and identifying the butterflies you see. Most of my counts last week were in the grounds of St Anne’s college where the meeting was being held and although I only saw Large and Small whites and Gatekeepers, all the data combines to paint a picture of the butterfly population across the country.

St Anne's College Oxford
St Annes College Oxford
photo by pmecologic (http://www.flickr.com/photos/marrowp/)

I also did a count at Oxford Station whilst waiting for the train to come back to London which turned up Large White and Peacock plus an overhead Red Kite – the first I have seen over central Oxford.

2008  03 29 Peacock Butterfly-1
Peacock Butterfly
photo by Kieth Laverack (http://www.flickr.com/photos/akandbdl/)

For more details of the Big Butterfly Count go to http://www.bigbutterflycount.org/

Went to Didcot Railway centre to see locomotive King Edward II in steam (post to follow) but as the Red Kites circled above took time out to do a lunchtime Butterfly count along the track verges.

The bird list was not extensive (4 species) but the views of Red Kite were brilliant

Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)

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The butterfly count recorded 6 species.

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)
Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)