Tuesday, 2 August 2011


A couple of days ago whilst out photographing butterflies I noticed two Red Kites  gently circling overhead. As they are a common sight in this area I didn't really pay them to much attention, they were also quite high in the sky. But on a second glance one seemed to be behaving rather strangely, it was jinking, rolling and fluttering  before returning to its customary steady glide! Then looking at it thro' the bino's (all the time it's getting further away) I could see that all the jerky movements were accompanied by a thrust of its talons and then putting them  up to its beak. My impression was that it had got something stuck in its talons and was somehow trying to dislodge it.
A trick that I sometimes use to help clarify a distant ID is to take a picture with the 400mm lens and then enlarge it on the computer. The resulting pictures are very grainy and of poor quality but sometimes they do make things a little bit easier to solve.

And this time was no exception, mystery solved............

............. it was catching and eating bugs (a dragon fly maybe?)

I've never seen a Red Kite doing this before, but I guess food is food however its caught!


ADRIAN said...

Unbelievable............I have yet to see a wild one.....Energy to calories......well into the negative.

The Herald said...

Adrian, it sure was using up a fair amount of energy for such little reward!

Take the camper on an away day (or three) to the Red Kite feeding station at Gigrin Farm in Wales, a marvellous spectacle. {;o)

holdingmoments said...

Maybe he thought he was a Hobby? lol

Amazing captures Trevor, and a great observation. Something I've never seen before.

And to think these superb birds were almost hunted to extinction in the UK.......just 5 pairs were left in the Welsh valleys a century ago.

The Herald said...

Thanks Keith, Maybe it just got bored with effortlessly gliding around in ever ascending circles and decided to try something different! lol.

Glad we've got them tho'. {;o)

Sorry Adrian, after rereading my reply to your comment above it sounds like I'm giving you an order!

What I meant to say was - If you want to see Red Kites in their hundreds a good place to go is Gigrin Farm in mid Wales. There, that sounds a bit better! {;o)

Roy said...

Hi Trevor, yes I have seen them eating small birds or voles on the wing before. Very dextrous.

Frank said...

Excellent method as a guide to ID Trevor. Interesting piece of behaviour. Not sure I've witnessed this before.

The Herald said...

Roy, I've seen them eating the raw beef (that's fed to them) whilst on the wing at Gigrin but I've never seen this, with such small prey, before!

Thanks Frank. Yeh, it's not a foolproof method of ID'ing but sometimes it can be helpful! The behaviour really had me baffled untill I saw the photo's.