Sunday, 15 January 2012

As High as a Kite

I was fortunate to be working in West Berkshire last week and whilst there I had close up views of Red Kites as they passed overhead, presumably keeping an eye on what I was doing. I was primarily interested in flocks of wintering birds, but it was difficult to ignore these majestic birds as they drifted overhead.

Red Kite - West Berkshire

Once a rare sight, other than in mid Wales, it is now difficult to travel along the M3 or M40 corridors without seeing these kings of the air as they drift effortlessly overhead.

Red Kite - West Berkshire

Juvenile birds have pale buff brown underparts, whereas adult birds have deep rufous underparts, as illustrated in these images.

Red Kite - West Berkshire

The deeply forked tail, distinct light window on the underside of the primaries and rufous underparts separate this species from the closely related Black Kite.

Red Kite - West Berkshire

In addition five protruding primaries (at the wing tip), as opposed to six on a Black Kite, confirm the identity of this species. In total seven birds were drifting back and forth over the site, and including the individual I saw at Manor Farm the other day, that's a pretty good total for me in the first few days of a new year!

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