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Birdwatcher’s Diary No.261: Close Encounters Of The Red Kite Kind!

Published on: 15 Aug, 2022
Updated on: 15 Aug, 2022

Close encounter with a red kite.

By Malcolm Fincham

Apart from my usual ventures, much of my time since mid-June through to the last weeks of July had been taken up watching a pair of red kites raising their two young at an undisclosed location within the Surrey Hills.

Adult red kite.

And having first located the nest-site on one of my pioneering adventures, I had immediately become addicted to following their progress.

Adul red kites.

My instant thoughts were to sing my discovery out from the rooftops and share such delights to all. But the still rivers of my cerebrations were running deep, reminding myself of such persecutions of birds of prey that still continue to this day.

“Loose lips sink ships!” I believe they say in naval terms? Or was it just some lyrics I had recalled on hearing an old AC/DC song? This was certainly a find I had to keep in the shade, under my hat.

Adult red kite.

There was one person, however, I knew I could confide in, Jeremy Gates. A trusted and qualified ringer for the Surrey Bird Club.

Using my 60x zoom bridge camera I took a few photos from a footpath some way off from a pine tree the red kites had decided to build their nest in.

Red kite chicks in the nest on June 30.

Having forwarded some of the pictures of the chicks on the nest he was able to tell that they were a “spot on” size for ringing. And having checked the site out for himself he was confident about the accent.

Red kite chicks on their nest taken by Jeremy on his phone camera having completed the ringing procedure on July 1.

By July 1 he had rung them. Working as a tree surgeon and arborist, it was of little difficulty that Jeremy climbed the tall pine, even managing a few photos of the young birds on his camera phone while carrying out the task.

Red kite chicks.

Knowing Jeremy, his stealth visit to their nest and the delivery of two rings was carried out with as much precision as an old Cadbury’s Milk Tray TV advert, (for those old enough to recall).

Red kite chick with adult.

In the weeks that followed the siblings continued to grow at an incredible rate. Noticing their speed of growth on each of my visits.

Red kite siblings in the nest on July 17.

By July 20, the larger of the siblings had already taken its maiden flight and continued to do so, though never straying too far from the nest.

By just the following day the younger of the siblings was also beginning to branch-out, though neither staying too far from the heavily wooded area in which they were born.

Red kite chick almost ready to fledge.

Still reliant on their parents to return with food parcels, they were becoming more vocal for their return.

Newly fledged red kite.

Later visits confirmed that although remaining in the area for several weeks after, they both successfully left fully fledged.

A well-explained short video about things you might like to know about red kites can be viewed on the video link here.

Adult red kite.

 

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