THE BLACK KITE Milvus migrans
Image courtesy of Harold Dobson
Here we see a Black Kite feeding on the wing.
Most recent UK and Irish reports of Black Kite
A Black Kite was as far north as Kirkwall (Orkney) on 9th and another roosted near West Hartford (Northumberland) on 14th–15th; others were noted in Powys, East Sussex and Kent.
Despite the upturn in falcon records, Black Kites were few and far between with reports from Burnham Overy (Norfolk) on 2nd and then not too far away at Holme on 4th, over the Dublin ring road on 5th and at Loch Duntelchaig (Highland) on 6th.
Black Kites were over Bramfield and Stowmarket (both Suffolk) on 11th and 13th respectively, with a probable reported over Grayrigg (Cumbria) on 14th.
The first report of this year: early Black Kite over Bough Beech Reservoir (Kent) on 4th March
Black Kite today 25/11/2012 over Cassiobury Park woodland. Definitely a black kite - backing up the spotting in Kings Langley approx 2 miles away. Beautiful to watch
Black kite near Station Rd in Kings Langley Hertfordshire on Saturday 17.11.12
Late Black Kites were reported over Mizen Head (Cork) on 26th and Slapton Sands (Devon) on 31st,
The only bird of prey of note this week was a juvenile Black Kite which arrived, out of the blue, at Spurn and later Kilnsea (E Yorks) on 18th.
Unfortunately for London birders, the sweet smells emanating from Rainham landfill site failed to lure in the Black Kite seen heading south over the RSPB reserve there on 23rd; it was later also seen over Crayford Marshes.
A couple of Black Kites over Montrose Basin (Angus & Dundee) on 19th and Ramsgate (Kent) on 20th
A juvenile Black Kite reported over Coventry (W Mids) on 11th
The only confirmed Black Kites were confined to Shetland, with reports from Fetlar, Hermaness and Valla Field (Unst), and North Roe (mainland). Both the non-Shetland reports came in on 23rd, from Stonehenge (Wilts) and over the A1 at Buckden (Cambs) the same day.
A Black Kite first seen at Sumburgh Head (Shetland) on 18th spent the following 24 hours touring much of the south mainland, although it tended to favour the landfill site at Gremista, where it was seen twice on 19th. Others were reported over Lincoln (Lincs) and St. John's Loch (Highland) on 17th and 19th respectively.
A Black Kite lingered just long enough at West Newton (E Yorks) to give fast-moving Roller twitchers an excellent bonus on 7th, before being seen over Atwick a little later in the morning. Another was reported over Ower (Hants) on 8th.
May into June
The pitiful Bank Holiday weather ensured that Black Kite records plummeted: just three were reported from Otterham Station (Cornwall) and Cranfield (Beds) on 31st May , and Faseny Bridge (Lothian) on 4th June.
24 - 30 th
18 reports on Bird News Extra throughout the week stretched from Kent to Cumbria, although all were typically fleeting as they restlessly drifted around in the warm May sunshine. Among the few that were tracked at least partially were birds over Bardsey Island then Uwchmynydd (Gwynedd) on 26th, and at Blakeney (Norfolk) on 25th and again on 29th. The sight of one coming to roadkill near Whitcombe (Dorset) on 25th must have been a surprise for the observer
Among a small number of flyover Black Kites were records from Lady's Island Lake (Wexford) on 15th and another in off the sea at Dungeness (Kent) the following day.
April into May
Also in Pembrokeshire, a Black Kite was located in the valley west of Letterston on 30th. Although initially not visible in poor weather the following morning, it was seen again later in the afternoon. Another arrived with a big fall of migrants at Galley Head (Cork) during the evening of the 1st, while two Cornish records came from Trevalgan on 28th and near St. Keverne on 1st and a further Welsh report was at Llanon (Ceredigion) on 2nd.
A Black Kite drifted over Spittal (Pembrokeshire) on 18th, with another northwest over Denbury (Devon) on 13th and a third reported over Kings Langley (Herts) the following day.
A Black Kite was seen at Pool of Virkie then Loch of Clumlie (Shetland) on 7th April, with another possible in Essex on 5th
It's the time of year for the first Black Kite arrivals, and this week brought a typical scattering of possibles and probables, mainly from southeastern counties; the geographical exception was a probable at Greaghnafarna (Leitrim) on 28th.24th March Black Kite reported at Vartry Reservoirs (Wicklow) This is the first record of the spring
The Black Kite
The Black Kite is more compact in shape than a Red Kite and is a duller, darker brown, lacking the red colours and the obvious white wing panels. Indeed, it is more likely to be mistaken for a female Marsh Harrier or a dark morph Booted Eagle but has more angular wings which it holds level or slightly drooping. Also, the tail of a kite always looks obviously pointed at its corners and the upperwing has distinctive pale panels across the coverts.
Summer visitor to wooded valleys, feeding on farmland, watersides and rubbish tips.
European birds winter south of the Sahara in tropical Africa. Western birds migrate mainly through Gibraltar, whilst eastern birds pass through the Bosporus in Turkey and Sinai in Egypt.
This information is taken from the BirdFile on the appropriate BirdGuides DVD-ROM. As well as video and sounds, our CD- and DVD-ROMs contain additional text on Voice, Sexing, Ageing, Food, Nests and Eggs and more.
The black kite, like its cousin, the Red Kite, like to decorate its nest, mostly with plastic rubbish.
BirdGuides rarity status: Scarce
Information courtesy of BirdGuides.com
Image courtesy of Mike Warburton
This is an even rarer Kite. A leucistic kite is mainly pure white and does not have the red, grey and black colouring of the common red kite. A "white" kite is not an "albino" kite and has blue eyes, rather than the pink eyes displayed by an "albino" kite.
Image courtesy of Mike Warburton
Craig Jones speaks of his experience in meeting this Leucistic Kite for the first time:
"I went to Gigrin for the very first time to photograph the beautiful Red Kites when this 'Leucistic' Kite turned up. It has started to visit the feeding station more and more after being born in 2003 and until recently hadn't been seen for some time.The weather was changing thoughout the day and here I captured him just lifting off almost like a RAF 'Heavy Bomber'."
Image courtesy of Tom Melton
Here, we see a Red Kite flying together with a White Kite.
Copyright Image courtesy of Nikon Kid Terry Cooper
For more information about the Leucistic Kite at Gigrin, go to http://www.gigrin.co.uk/white_redkite.html