By the 1st of August a number of the newly released kites had started to leave the immediate area surrounding the release pens. Their absences were generally only for short periods, and they would be recorded in the release area a day or two later. One bird however, “Black P”, had left by the 2nd of August and was not seen again during this period.
During August I began to see more of last years birds in the release area. This may have been due to the new kites drawing them in, the food that I was placing out, but was also a direct result of increased time spent watching kites on my behalf. A number of ‘07 birds were identified, namely “Purple G”, “Purple H” and “Purple g”. “Purple G” was occasionally seen at the feeding site and I suspect it may have established a territory in this area. Other “Purple” kites were seen but went unidentified. The ‘07 kites were obvious due to the changes in plumage and the fact that they were moulting. Reading tags on flying kites is difficult unfortunately, and all the ’07 birds have now dropped their radios.
The general pattern of the kite’s movements has mirrored last years fairly closely. The kites slowly moved from the release area into the wider countryside. By the end of September a large number of kites were using a fairly well defined area. This area also hosts a number of the ’07 birds, and was the area most heavily favoured area last year. The move to this area was somewhat slower than last year. The area is largely dominated by cereal fields, which are not useful to the kites until they are cut. Harvesting was delayed by the heavy rains during the summer.
During September twenty five of the newly released kites were still present in the release area.
Food was placed out for the kites for a month after release. After this time no birds were seen in attendance at the feeding sites. Watches of the feeding site were carried out in early morning and evening to ensure that the kites had actually stopped coming to feed.
Very few sighting of kites with identifiable prey have been made. Two of the ’08 kites were watched side by side in a stubble field. The birds were walking around scanning the ground beneath them. They occasionally seemed to snap up items from the ground, presumably invertebrates of some kind. Another ’08 kite was watched soaring around with an unidentified rodent in its talons. It eventually drew the attention of another kite that chased after it in attempt to rob its prey. The outcome of the chase was unseen.
A small kite roost was located on the 16th September. Eight of the ’08 release birds were present. The roost is located in a group of mature trees surrounded by a large area of young forestry. No ’07 birds have been seen at this site. In October, the main roost was located, but a number of birds continue using the smaller site.
Two birds from this year, “Black K” and “Black T”, are carrying back mounted, solar powered, satellite tags. Both birds are doing well, and the satellite packs have been functioning without problem despite the weather. Maps of the current locations of these two kites will soon be available to view on the Golden Eagle Trust’s website.
No serious incidents recorded during this two month period. One kite, “Black M” dropped its radio shortly after release, another radio has apparently ceased to work, that of “Black d”.
Update: Aug - Sep 2008