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Spring Games

Spring Games
Photo Information
Copyright: Pekka Valo (pekkavalo1) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 423 W: 54 N: 2120] (6789)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-04-08
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon EOS 40D, Sigma EX 500mm f4.5 APO HSM, RAW ISO 400, Kenko Teleplus Pro 300 DG 1.4x
Exposure: f/8, 1/800 seconds
Details: Tripod: Yes
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2008-04-23 2:26
Viewed: 3259
Points: 26
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Red Kite carrying a piece of wool or something similar. Seems to be a ritual which is part of their mating games rather than nest building yet. The picture was shot at Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The Red Kite (Milvus milvus) is a medium-large bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as eagles, buzzards and harriers. The species is currently endemic to the Western Palearctic region in Europe and northwest Africa, though formerly also occurred just outside in northern Iran. It is a rare species which is resident in the milder parts of its range in western Europe and northwest Africa, but birds from northeastern and central Europe winter further south and west, reaching south to Turkey. Vagrants have reached north to Finland and south to Israel and Libya.

Physical characteristics and behaviour
The Red Kite is 6066 cm long with a 175195 cm wingspan; males have a weight of 8001200 g, and females 10001300 g. It is an elegant bird, soaring with long wings held at a dihedral, and long forked tail twisting as it changes direction. The body, upper tail and wing coverts are rufous. The white primary flight feathers contrast with the black wing tips and dark secondaries. Apart from the weight difference, the sexes are similar, but juveniles have a buff breast and belly. The call is a thin piping, similar to but less mewling than Common Buzzard.
The species nests in trees, often close to other kites; in winter, many kites will roost together. In the spring the nests are obvious at the tops of trees. From a distance they look like rookeries, including the swirling pattern of the birds. From closer to, one can see that the birds are not rooks but kites because of the more slender wings.
At signs of danger a mother will signal the young who will "play dead" to the extent that a fox will believe them to be dead and leave them, thinking it can return to eat them later.

Differences between adults and juveniles
Adults differ from juveniles in a number of characteristics:
Adults are overall more deeply rufous, compared with the more washed out colour of juveniles;
Adults have black breast-streaks whereas on juveniles these are pale;
Juveniles have a less deeply-forked tail, with a dark subterminal band;
Juveniles have pale tips to all of the greater-coverts (secondary and primary) on both the upper- and under-wings, forming a long narrow pale line; adults have pale fringes to upperwing secondary-coverts only.
These differences hold throughout most of the first year of a bird's life.

In the Middle Ages, Red Kites were much more widespread, their scavenging habits making them the refuse collectors of the day, but their numbers have much decreased through illegal persecution and poisoning. Rumours spread amongst the farming community that they were capable of killing sheep, as they were often found scavenging off animal carcasses. In reality, they will only take small live prey as well as carrion, and will rob other birds. Their scavenging nature makes them particularly vulnerable to accidental or deliberate illegal poisoning, where they scavenge the carcass of an animal that has been poisoned, and succumb to the poison themselves.

According to a report by the Welsh Kite Trust, the UK is the only country in which the Red Kite population is increasing. Red Kites are decreasing in their three strongholds of Spain, France and Germany, and population increases have stagnated in Sweden and Switzerland.

United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, the breeding population eventually became restricted to a handful of pairs in Wales, but recently the Welsh population has been supplemented by re-introductions in England and Scotland. In 1989 six Swedish birds were released at a site in north Scotland and four Swedish and one Welsh bird in Buckinghamshire. Altogether, 93 birds of Swedish and Spanish origin were released at each of the sites. In the second stage of reintroduction in 1995 and 1996, further birds were brought over from Germany to populate the areas of Dumfries and Galloway, and the Derwent Valley.

The reintroductions in The Chilterns have been a particular success, with a now well-established strong population across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. The Kites are a common sight above the houses of the Buckinghamshire villages of Stokenchurch and Haddenham and also the towns of Princes Risborough and as far east as Chesham, the Oxfordshire town of Wallingford and their surrounding areas. Sightings are common along the M40 between Oxford and Wycombe, all the way down to Reading and Newbury on the M4. In June 2006, the UK-based Northern Kites Project reported that kites have bred in the Derwent Valley in and around Rowlands Gill, Tyne and Wear for the first time since the re-introduction.

Red Kites were extinct in Ireland by the middle nineteenth century, due to persecution, poisoning and woodland clearance. Some Scottish pairs did visit Ireland in the summers, but it was proposed by statisticians that only one pair had nested permanently. In May 2007, Minister for the Environment Heritage and Local Government Dick Roche announced an agreement to bring at least 100 birds from Wales to restock the population as part of a 5-year programme in the Wicklow Mountains, similar to the earlier Golden Eagle On the 19th July 2007 the first thirty red kites were released in Co. Wicklow. project.

haraprasan, Maite, goldyrs, NinaM, darwin, jaycee, gracious, CeltickRanger, eqshannon, Jamesp, SelenE has marked this note useful
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Hello Pekka,

No time, jurt marking.

Hi Pekka,
A nice capture of this beautiful kite. Excellent sharp details and a fine composition. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • Great 
  • Maite Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 998 W: 65 N: 1270] (5199)
  • [2008-04-23 3:17]

Hello Pekka
What a fantastic capture! The bird is really stunning and has a beautiful plumage. You caught it in very good timing.
Congratulations and TFS

Lovely shot of this kite in action, pekka.

  • Great 
  • NinaM Gold Star Critiquer [C: 773 W: 3 N: 1157] (4077)
  • [2008-04-23 4:51]

You captured the beauty of the bird, Pekka, a bird unknown to me and so beautiful. I also like the small wool in its beak, testifying all the work being done by birds for nesting. Superb, we see all the details underneath the wings, the beauty of the flight. Thank you!


Hi Pekka
Great inflight action shot
Fine sharpness and detail
Nice natural color. tfs jon

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-04-23 9:31]

Hi Pekka,

There's always something special about watching birds gathering nesting material. Wonderful to capture one in flight with it in his mouth.


  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-04-23 14:27]

Another excellent capture of a Red Kite!
You've exposed this perfectly!
Good sharpness and detail.
Nice lighting too.
Great pose with the wool in its mouth.
Excellent work once again, Pekka!


Hello Pekka,
Very nice inflight shot of the Kite!
good clarity, natural colour and details especially the object in it's beck!
well done and TFS
best regards

hello Pekka

very beautiful shot, fine POV and framing,
i love where the Kite is placed on the image or i can say
i love where is the blue of the sky, excellent sharpness and details,



I see a man with a good eye and a good camera....but more so on the eye....and of course this flying creature of which I have seen family relatives but none the same here ....yet...Very well seen Pekka...and I must add to thank you for your kinds words on my images as well!

  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2008-04-23 23:05]

Hi Pekka

Lovely capture of this now returning raptor. For many year I had not seen one, then I saw one in Wales. Now they nest about 20 miles away and I have seen them near my house three times recently.


  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2008-04-23 23:53]

Hi Pekka,
Nice in-flight capture of this kite with a good pose. TFS

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