We had a reported sighting of a Red Kite from Knaresborough last week that included the photo below. This was tagged Red/Blue 2 which indicated that it was a red kite of Central Scottish origin.
We’ve heard back from Central Scotland. They didn’t do any tagging last year. The type of tag shown wouldn’t have been in use in 2001 so this all points to it being a bird from 2010.
Assuming this to be correct, it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that the bird has been down here for some time and could well be breeding somewhere local.
The Dutch Bird
Every now and again we get sent an image and a query from further afield.
This time, the original information came to us from across the water in the Netherlands. A link to a report on a local birding website showed the sighting of a red kite (24th March 2020) with the wing tag "Orange 08X". There was also an accompanying photograph:
The bird was obviously NOT British by origin, but the tag's source was unknown.
We do love a mystery here at YRK, so decided to investigate further.
Sightings of Red Kites continue to be reported from an increasingly wide area, showing that the birds are continuing to explore new locations. However, there has still been no confirmation of breeding pairs to the south of Leeds. Issue 20 reported on the increase in sightings of kites in the North Nottinghamshire, North Derbyshire and South Yorkshire localities, they having become a regular sight as far north as the Doncaster area. Such reports (including two breeding records which were not quite in Yorkshire) have continued in the ensuing period and it will surely not be long before kites become a regular and widespread feature in the landscape throughout the county – particularly when this northerly progression reaches areas already populated by birds originating from the Yorkshire release site at Harewood. It is likely that these are predominantly kites which have spread northwards from the well-established Midlands population, arising from birds released in Northamptonshire in the mid-1990s. Such traffic of Midlands birds northwards is something we’ve been aware of, on a small scale, for a number of years, the occasional tagged Midlands bird having joined the Yorkshire breeding population in the past.
We've had several photos sent to us recently of red kites looking "worse for wear"!
Red kites moult a small number of their feathers on an annual basis, with non-breeding birds starting to moult earliest in the year (even as early as April). Parents tend to start moulting once their young have fledged in June / July.
Moulting is an energy-sapping process, it taking individual feathers 8 to 10 weeks to grow back to full size.
Many times you will spot that the gaps in the wing feathers are symmetrical (same on both sides), this is a natural occurrence helping the birds maintain their flying abilities. In general feathers will be moulted in the same pattern / order on each wing during each moult season, with moulting normally having concluded by November.
Our red kites do not migrate over large distances, though you will find them congregating in 'winter roosts'. As with many birds moulting is unusual during winter months as the birds are conserving their energy. If you see a bird with a missing feather at this time of the year it may well have been damaged by flying into something!