Thursday, 19 June 2008

Aren't Kites Brilliant!

Continuing the birding story of my holiday in Wales, the next feathery target were the Red Kites at the Forestry Commission's feeding station at Nant-yr-Arian, in central Wales about 9 miles east of Aberystwyth, where an ABB project runs most days through the year. Around 100 birds arrive everyday at three in the afternoon to snatch a quick easy meal, swooping down with great dramatic poise to pick up their prize, usually chicken we're told, tossed to them by the rangers. This apparently helps improve breeding success, especially during dry spells when parent birds find difficulty in digging up their main prey item - worms.

Here's the video...

(another video here)

The hide is 20 yards from the feeding area, so you can view the Kites at very close quarters indeed.

Now truth be told, the profusion of Red Kites there lasts most of the afternoon, you really can't miss them in your anywhere around the site, and after an hour or two you begin to take them for granted. This has to be a marvellous thing, to be tired of Red Kites! After the entire Welsh (and therefore British population) at one point came down to just a handful of pairs, indeed research into their genetics tells that all Welsh kites are descended from just one female, these numbers indicate the most amazing recovery for the species.
There are up to 400 pairs now in Wales, and without hyperbole their survival has to be one of the great stories in nature conservation anywhere in the world. What a remarkable achievement! So even if the feeding stations feel a little like Red Kite theme parks, all is forgiven.

Of course you don't have to go to Wales for Red Kites anymore, there are birds from reintroduction schemes around much of England now, and some fairing a little less well in Scotland. The Welsh will tell you these are 'non-native' Red Kites since they came from European populations and perhaps they have a point. Truth be told, there is an argument that the RSPB jumped to quickly to reintroduce Red Kites to the UK from other countries. It's a cautionary tale.

Other birds around the site included Buzzards, Ravens, Siskin, and practically in the car park you have Tree Pipit.

Back to the Kites, and more pictures...

The valley to the west.

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