A red kite day

Flanders Moss NNR

We have been seeing more red kites around Flanders for the past year so we hope that this means there are a pair or two nesting in the area. The population has been slow to spread west from its original release site at Argaty, near Doune (where you can go to get spectacular views close-up – more info here). Red kites have suffered persecution in the past around here even though they cause no problems as their main food is carrion – dead things – though they will also feed on small mammals, and also lots of insects and earthworms – nothing that would worry a gamekeeper. Though they look big birds on the wing they are actually much lighter in weight than a buzzard, and not nearly as robust or strong, hence their preference for prey that isn’t going to put up much (or any) of a struggle. They look big because the have such large, broad wings and tail, giving them a wide surface area which makes it easier for them to soar slowly looking for food sources.

The other day on the edge of Flanders I saw one drifting across the fields seemingly trailing something from its claws. I was a bit worried that it might be tangled in string or wire so photographed it and followed it down to a fence post.

I quickly realised that it actually had what was probably a mouse or a vole in its claws. In the process of grabbing the small mammal it had also got a bunch of grass which is what I saw trailing behind it.

Like a small black shadow it had been followed by a local carrion crow which preceeded to sit and watch the kite eat the mouse, – like all crows it was an optomist, thinking that there might be some scraps left over. The kite just picked away until, once finished everything, it has a quick rest and then moved on.

I felt quite privileged to have been able to share a minute with such an impressive bird and get a little insight into its life. A red kite day is a good day.

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2 Responses to A red kite day

  1. Phil Graves says:

    Great photos Dave! It’s been puzzling me why Scotland has had such a poor Red Kite record. I’m just back from Bucks, and I regularly see a dozen or so every day, and hear them constantly. Gamekeepers?


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