Sunday, 2 December 2012

Red Kites - feeding time in Galloway

 This year we've started to see a few red kites just outside Kirkcudbright on several occasions which suggests that the reintroduction program in Galloway is going well. The red kite had been extinct in Scotland since 1879 (1871 in England) and it was just in Wales that it managed to cling onto existence - there were at most 20 breeding pairs there until the 1960s. During the middle ages they were looked kindly upon, as scavengers they kept countryside clean and there are reports of red kites among rubbish in London, but by the 15th century opinion had shifted. James II said that they should be killed where ever possible and there were similar attitudes in Tudor England. 

The reintroduction has been countrywide, including Wales where the gene pool had become somewhat depleted. The population in Galloway dates back to 2001 where around 90 birds were introduced over a couple of years. The current population is thought to be around 360 - 390 birds with 70 breeding pairs.

The Galloway kite trail was set up in 2003 to help people see the birds and, for anyone interested, there can be no doubt that the highlight of the trail would be a visit to the feeding station at around 2 o'clock in the afternoon That's where I was this afternoon where for a small sum (£2.50) you can watch the birds being fed. It really is very spectacular. I arrived around 20 minutes before feeding to find several trees around the feeding site full of kites and many arriving from all directions. A chap from the RSPB was there and was answering questions. He estimated that today there were around 100 kites, mainly due to the cold weather - on a good Summer day around half that number would be expected. Our Kirkcudbright kites are unlikely to be here, it's just a little bit far - they'll be finding their tea elsewhere.

Once the meat had been brought out, all became much more hectic.


Ellie said...

Hi Sandy, those are some amazing pictures you got there. They certainly like their grub :))
If you go to your picasa website where your pictures will probably be stored and go to the bottom of the page it should tell you how much memory you have used.
The only way I knew I had filled my memory up was when trying to load a picture to my blog and it wouldn't let me. It is a bit annoying to say the least.
Good luck!!!

andamento said...

Great photos, I've never seen as red kite - as far as I'm aware anyway.
Thanks for your comment on my blog. To answer your question I'm with the Glasgow Chamber Orchstra.

Sandy's witterings said...

Thanks Ellie - I eventually found my pictures - somewhere on Google+ ,I'll just not worry about it just now I think.

Welcome Andamento - mystery solved :) I'm sure in a few years, red kites will be much more common and easy to see.

The Glebe Blog said...

That's a great set of pictures Sandy, you've snapped more than I've seen.
Visiting the feeding station's been on my itinerary for six years now.
New Galloway,Mossdale, Laurieston down to Gatehouse is where I usually see them. Of course that's almost central to the feeding station.

A few years ago the winner of the Galloway Ranger's Photo Competition was a semi professional photographer's picture of a Red Kite doing nothing. Mine only came out with the chaff to be displayed at Kirroughtree. Apparently it wasn't just for amateurs as I thought.

Sandy's witterings said...

They're distinctly tricky to photograph Jim, especially when you're working with a point and fire like me. I expect the answer is and slr firing off a big pile of pictures at a time. I see some of the big pictures on display and I'm amazed at how they do it (though they've probably taken hundreds to get it)

Shundo said...

Never seen so many big birds together - very beautiful.