The Wanderer Returns…?

You may have read in a previous blog, about the early movements of some of the GPS tagged birds, that one of the birds (turquoise line….we really must come up with some names!) left Co. Down and went to Inishowen, Co. Donegal, before heading south to Co. Westmeath in August. This is an update on that bird…are you sitting comfortably? 🙂

The bird, a red kite GPS tagged as a chick in 2019, arrived in the area around Lough Derravaragh (Natural Heritage Area) in Co. Westmeath on 8th Aug 2019. It stayed in the Lough Derravaragh area until 24th Aug, when it thought about coming back north and crossed into Co. Cavan at 14:00hrs. It didn’t take too long to change its mind and returned to roost that evening in Westmeath, in the same area as it had been in the previous few weeks. We have no idea if it was with other kites or on its own, but it certainly had itchy feet. On the 25th Aug it started a journey southeast, roosting south of Naas in Co. Kildare that evening. Then by 19:00hrs on the 26th Aug it had crossed the Wicklow Mountains and reached a well known red kite roost in Co. Wicklow, near Rathdrum.

Co. Down born red kite heads to Co. Wicklow

This bird stayed around the Rathdrum/ Avoca area with other kites, taking only the odd venture out to Carrickmines Co. Dublin on 8th Sept and Glenmalure at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains on 12th Sept. It was clearly doing well with the other kites in Wicklow, and we guessed that this bird wouldn’t come back to the Northern Ireland population any time soon.

Then we were in for a surprise! On 30th Oct (77 days after first arriving in Wicklow) the bird left the usual roost at 07:30hrs and flew determindly northwest, hitting Black Castle Bog (Natural Heritage Area) in Co. Offaly at 11:30hrs (85km as the crow flies!). Not content, it continued north, right over Mullingar Co. Westmeath, arriving at Lough Derravarragh at 15:35hrs – back where it spent those 2 weeks at the begining of August. It roosted there that night and continued north on 31st Oct. It flew over Lough Sheelin and into Co. Cavan, flying over Crosskeys at 11:30hrs and Kill at 15:30hrs, roosting close by a short time later.

Co. Down born red kite leaves Co. Wicklow

Just as we opened the Champagne (ok, Prosecco), it decided it had had enough of travelling and missed its pals back in Wicklow…yes, you guessed it…the bird changed course and flew east, roosting south of Ardee, Co. Louth on 1st Nov. On the 2nd Nov it followed the east coast past Bettystown and Balbriggan, roosting at Lusk, Co. Dublin. The next morning it crossed Dublin Bay and was back in the original roost near Rathdrum Co. Wicklow by tea time – Phew!!!! We make that a 325km round trip in 5 days.

Yes, you guessed it, Co. Down born red kite returns to Co. Wicklow!

This bird has since stayed within 2km of this roost in Co. Wicklow and it looks like it’s wandering days are over for now! We know that young red kites explore in their first winter and then may return to where they fledged the following spring, aiming to set up a territory close to where their parents were successful. On the other hand they are also very social and stay close to other red kites. So it remains to be seen whether this bird will enter the Wicklow/ Dublin population of kites or return to Co. Down.

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