The locations of the kites have not changed since the September - November report. The majority of the kites can still be located in and around one large farm. Kites not in the main group on this farm can be found in the surrounding area in smaller groups, they are rarely seen singly. Kites that frequent the main roost have been seen up to 9km away during the day.
One report of a sighting of a dispersed kite was confirmed. Kite “purple e” was reported near Naas in Co. Kildare. At least three individuals reported seeing the bird, when I went to investigate the reports I quickly located the bird. The bird has been seen by me on two occasions, both times it was on the one farm. The actual fields it was in were stubble fields, there were also two common buzzards present, so presumably there is a good supply of food in the area. The landowner reported the kite to BirdWatch Ireland and he is very pleased to have it there.
Very little supplementary feeding of the kites was carried out since November. The feeding platforms I was using were rarely visited by kites so I stopped placing food out on them. The occasional road kill was put out in the areas where the kites frequent and kites were seen in attendance at these, although on one occasion in particular a common buzzard and some hooded crows appeared to be dominant over the kites at the food, a rabbit.
The communal roosts are still active. During January it became evident that the location of the main roost had shifted slightly from one side of a valley to another. While watching the new roost twenty-one kites flushed out of a large tree in the vicinity of the roost. On this evening there were also three other kites in a smaller roost a few kilometres away, giving us a total of twenty-four kites in the release area.
During February the main group of kites shifted their roost site. They moved to a site that had been used by a small group of kites for some time. The new roost being in flat country was difficult to find as I couldn’t overlook the kites heading into roost. Eventually in the last few days of February I located the new roost by doing a dawn visit as opposed to the usual dusk visit. The new roost is quite unlike the previous ones, all previous roosts were in blocks of forestry, the new roost is in hedgerow trees on a farm.
I spoke with the landowners in question and they are quite happy to have the kites there and gave me access to visit the roost. The roost is particularly easy to get to and so is a good area for collecting kite pellets for diet analysis. On my first visit to the roost I collected 40+ pellets.
On the 23rd January I located the radio and central tail feather of kite “purple Q”. I had presumed this kite had dispersed as I had not picked up its signal in some time. The feather was located in a copse of trees in a small valley, hence the radio signal wasn’t travelling very far. The feather seems to have broken off or been bit off by the kite. There is no reason for me to suspect that anything has happened to “purple Q” but have not had a confirmed sighting of him since.
Welsh Kite Trust Meeting
On the 24th February I attended a meeting of the Welsh Kite Watchers Group. I updated the group on the progress of the Irish project to date. All in attendance were very pleased at how our project is getting on and were very impressed at the survival rates of the kites in Ireland to date. Collection of kites in July of 2008 will go ahead as planned.