Winter

Red kite (Image (c) Dick Glasgow)

The winter weather has been quite mild up until now and the satellite tracked birds have been keeping well and roosting with other young birds at several favoured spots across the country. Although we have been keeping fairly quiet about the movements of the birds this winter, to protect communal roost sites, it seems like a good time for a quick update on some of the birds you were introduced to in the previous blogs.

Since the middle of November the red kite nicknamed the ‘Wanderer’ has not been recorded outside of a 2.5 square km zone around it’s favoured roosting spot in Co. Wicklow. This is quite remarkable given the movements of this bird in autumn (see previous blog). In the recent ‘Red Kite Winter Roost Watch’, over the weekend of 11th/12th of January, Golden Eagle Trust red kite volunteers in the area recorded at least 18 red kites roosting where Wanderer has been transmitting in the evenings – great to see he has some company! He has been mainly spending his days in arable fields.

Red kites settling in to roost (Image (c) Marc Ruddock)

One of the other satellite tagged red kites (Blue 7K), which was of particular interest due to its travels around Co. Antrim and then to Co. Cork, has settled in a favoured roosting spot in the drumlins between the Mournes and Slieve Croob. It has been recorded roosting with several other red kites, one of which is another satellite tagged bird which you may remember spent some time around Donaghadee in August. This bird (Blue 7H) has been all over Co. Down since it was tagged in July, and takes daily commutes of considerable distances realitve to the Wanderer, for example heading from the Castlewellan area to Crossgar (45km) for a few days in December before returning back to the same roost.

Blue 7H has been all over Co.Down but has a favoured roosting spot in the Dromara Hills (Image: Google Earth)
Blue 7H and Blue 7K mainly spend their days with other kites in the Dromara Hills, Co. Down (Image: Google Earth)

Unfortunately studies show that only 50% of young kites are expected to make it through their first winter. Fingers crossed that these birds, and the others we have been tracking, have learned enough survival skills in the last 6 months to take them through the next two months which will probably be the leanest period of prey availability and have the harshest weather conditions they will face throughout the year.