Thursday, 12 September 2013

A Red Kite Surprise

It was one of those unexpected wildlife encounter days today.  I had to wait in for a parcel, so I was late getting my dog out for his walk and just as I neared the place where I was going to take him, the car in front pulled into it with umpteen dogs in the car, so I decided to continue down the road to another walking destination. I'm glad I did.

The walk is a short steep hike up to a small rocky knoll.  Upon parking the car I could hear 'Noisy' the Buzzard, so called because all he/she does is make a noise almost constantly, not the usual buzzard mewing more like a gull, a sound which usually accompanies me on my walks when in the vicinity!

I was pleased to see 'Noisy' and another Buzzard soaring together and I watched them until they disappeared behind the hills out of sight, the din from 'Noisy' growing fainter as they flew.

I continued up the steep slope and stopped for a scan with the binoculars. I immediately spotted a bird with large wingspan, too big for a buzzard.  I kept watching and thought it looked like a Red Kite; distinct white underwing patches and light head visible.  As it glided and turned revealing its tell-tale forked tail, it was confirmed.

The Kite soared before finally landing on the hillside, where it preened its feathers. Outstretching it's almost two metre wingspan dwarfed a sheep that was grazing nearby. A couple of crows soon joined it, clearly unhappy by the prescence of the large raptor.  They each took it in turns to bounce up to the bigger Kite, before backing off. Then a Buzzard flew over and appeared to disperse the crows, the Red Kite took off and the crows left after getting 'buzzed' by the Buzzard!

At that moment through my binoculars I could see two magnificent birds of prey together, the Buzzard and the Red Kite.

There had been talk of a Red Kite lurking in these particular hills over the last few years, probably due to the revised management of the area, restricting sheep grazing which in turn has led to the increase in favoured food sources.  In fact, I was only talking to a fellow raptor enthusiast about it last week, but I hadn't yet seen the elusive Kite when out walking in the hills, so I was excited with today's raptor extravaganza -  there sure is a Red Kite in them there hills!

Photo of a Red Kite in Dumfries & Galloway, taken by my other half.

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