Red Kite is a regular occurrence at The Farm these days. To think that only ten years ago this was a difficult species to see with only a handful of sightings a year. These sightings would also be high fly-overs with little opportunity to get good views of the birds moult pattern.
This species is primarily a scavenger feeding on carrion but will also take live prey and even fish. The landfill still contains food waste despite local councils implementing a collection service. I have noticed in the last few years that Kites are looking to feed on the landfill swooping very low over the site in search of a meal.
Very few birds are successful due to the eagle eyed Corvids that perch and patrol the site. This morning as Mike, Frank and I were ringing one bird attempted to land on the landfill then turned its attentions to us circling over the hide as we were processing our highest tally of birds in the nets so far this year (61 new and 5+ re-traps).
This species has in the past has been heavily persecuted which led to a committee being set up in 1903 to protect nest sites. In the 1980’s the Kite was one of three species that was globally threatened residing in the UK.
Introduction programmes saw the first successful breeding records in Buckinghamshire and North Scotland in 1992. 1994 saw the first wild chicks being reared. This species is now established in the East Midlands, Central Scotland, Leeds, Derwent Valley, Dumfries and Scotland. Populations in the South are thriving with feeding programmes in place.
Many birds are wing tagged and any sightings should be reported to the BTO.
Ref: RSPB, Raptors of Europe and Middle East by Forsman.