The beginning of a new year meant that it was time for the annual survey of Red Kite roost sites, now established as occurring over the first weekend in January. Ideal conditions to produce good counts would be fine, bright weather with sufficient breeze to encourage the birds to have a good fly around before settling down for the night. For the second year running, the conditions were not favourable. East Yorkshire had misty conditions on both days, whilst elsewhere there was no breeze. In these conditions the birds just sit around before dropping down into their overnight quarters. Another factor affecting the counts is finding out where the birds are likely to roost. There is a tendency these days for them to be more mobile and to congregate in smaller numbers over more sites – making it a bit of a lottery as to where to watch!
The combined efforts of several observers, concentrating on established locations, produced the following figures, with 2016 results shown in brackets:
East Yorkshire – 54 (47)
North Yorkshire – 42 (45)
West Yorkshire – 74 (57)
A total of 170 (149).
Whilst these numbers were disappointing, they turned out to be the highest recorded in any of the English Red Kite release areas.
Kites using communal roosts are likely to be mainly younger, unpaired birds, established pairs remaining on their territories. It has been suggested that roost gatherings offer opportunities for pairing up – indeed display behaviour was observed at two of the roost sites. These younger pairs will be looking to set up their own territories over the coming months and reports of possible new breeding sites would be very welcome. They could be reported through the 'Contact us' facility on the website.
If you are fortunate enough to know of any Red Kite activity, please use our ‘Contact Us’ page to let us know. It is possible that we may not already be aware of it. We are particularly interested to hear if you have not seen kites in that area previously. Such information assists us in our monitoring work and would be treated confidentially.