Friday, 1 November 2013

Red Kites in The Chilterns

I grew up in Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire and most of my family still live there. Whenever I visit I always find some time to photograph the Red Kites and always come away a little frustrated with my efforts. But, this week I am much happier with my images.

I now use a Canon EOS 7D with a Canon 400mm f5.6 L USM Lens. I kept the settings at f/8 with an ISO range of 400 – 800 and exposure compensation of +1.5 to +2. Fortunately one of the days during my visit was bright with clear blue skies. All of the images were taken from my mum’s garden.

I’m always amazed by the Red Kites, from soon after first light to about an hour before dusk, they are almost constantly on view, often in double figures. A number of local residents I suspect feed the kites, and they are constantly patrolling over the gardens. At times coming extremely low, occasionally below the rooftops, and as most of the residencies are bungalows, you get an idea of just how low they are at times.
I flew the nest during the early eighties, back then you had to travel to mid-Wales for a possible view of the quite rare (in the UK) Red Kite and at that time the small welsh population was declining. For the last twelve years I have lived in South Essex, and during that time I have only been lucky enough to see a single Red Kite fly over my garden on two occasions!

The Red Kite story is certainly an over whelming conservation success. They were reintroduced to The Chilterns over a six year period in 1989. Since 1997 the population has been monitored by the Southern England Kite Group. In order to monitor the movements of Red Kites all reintroduced birds and many wild fledged birds have been fitted with wing tags. These plastic tags are colour-coded, on the left wing the tags colour represents the area of origin (yellow for the Chilterns). While the colour tag on the right wing represents the year (2012 was red). These plastic tags normally fall off after 4 or 5 years.

A 2012 bird!