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The lounge Relax, take a break from photo and camera talk - have a chat about something else for a change. Just keep it clean and polite!

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Old 26th January 2017
Harold Gough Harold Gough is offline
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Red Kite Dogfight

This happened a few minutes ago, with the morning light still quite dim.

We see Red Kites on most days of the year, if we are outside long enough. (There is some kind of sanctuary a few miles away).

I was upstairs briefly and took a look, out of the window, at the birds eating the food I had just put out for them. I then saw two Kites gliding two hundred feet or so high, in tight circles, as they do. Then something happened which i have not observed before during the many years that kites have been around.

One of them flew towards the other, flipping upside down and striking the underside of the other bird's body with its feet. This was repeated at least another three times, the pair disappearing out of site over our roof. Very shortly after, one of them returned to continue its flights over our garden, as if nothing had happened.

Harold
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Old 26th January 2017
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Re: Red Kite Dogfight

Morning Harold, lovely birds to watch. They are fairly gregarious birds as you know and being carrion feeders I would suspect it is about food. If one bird has something another wants they can try to unsettle it so that it drops its food. Did you see anything drop?

But whatever it was it would be good to have a picture of your kites, if you can gently ease the macro lens off of the camera..

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Old 26th January 2017
Harold Gough Harold Gough is offline
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Re: Red Kite Dogfight

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Morning Harold, lovely birds to watch. They are fairly gregarious birds as you know and being carrion feeders I would suspect it is about food. If one bird has something another wants they can try to unsettle it so that it drops its food. Did you see anything drop?

But whatever it was it would be good to have a picture of your kites, if you can gently ease the macro lens off of the camera..

peter
Thanks, Peter.

I was looking for that and saw nothing but can't discount it. The fact that they were circling i.e. looking for food goes against it.

Silouettes against a dull, overcast sky would not impress!

I occasionally put a long (300mm) lens on. For example, we get Fieldfares and/or Redwings on the Cotoneaster at this time of the year but the light (I have to shoot facing southeast) is usually against me.

We get Grey Herons flying over on most days but the orientation is usually unhelpful. We also get Buzzards but at about 1,000 feet!

We do sometimes see a Kite with mobbing crows in formation alongside.

I get more shots of deer with my 105mm, the latest being a Muntjac on our front lawn but with clutter behind it.

Harold
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Old 26th January 2017
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Re: Red Kite Dogfight

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Thanks, Peter.

I was looking for that and saw nothing but can't discount it. The fact that they were circling i.e. looking for food goes against it.

Silouettes against a dull, overcast sky would not impress!

I occasionally put a long (300mm) lens on. For example, we get Fieldfares and/or Redwings on the Cotoneaster at this time of the year but the light (I have to shoot facing southeast) is usually against me.

We get Grey Herons flying over on most days but the orientation is usually unhelpful. We also get Buzzards but at about 1,000 feet!

We do sometimes see a Kite with mobbing crows in formation alongside.

I get more shots of deer with my 105mm, the latest being a Muntjac on our front lawn but with clutter behind it.

Harold
Our garden has the same orientation so I don't get many pictures at home either.

I shall mention it to my good friend who was involved in the reintroduction of the Kites and a professional naturalist. He may have an insight.

I find it impossible to get a nice picture of a muntjac.

Peter
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Old 26th January 2017
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Re: Red Kite Dogfight

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I find it impossible to get a nice picture of a muntjac.
You just need to get close .....



Muntjac by Andy Johnson, on Flickr
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Old 26th January 2017
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Re: Red Kite Dogfight

Not close enough but I had to merge with my wife's car to get this. EM-1, Kiron 105mm, cropped by about 2/3.



See what I mean about clutter? It was the best of the set.

Harold
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Old 26th January 2017
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Re: Red Kite Dogfight

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You just need to get close .....
Very nice, Andy. Looks like a juvenile.

Harold
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Old 26th January 2017
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Re: Red Kite Dogfight

Courtship display? I've seen something similar on a TV documentary many years ago and if it was Red Kites on the program I think you may have witnessed a pair courting.
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Old 26th January 2017
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Re: Red Kite Dogfight

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Courtship display? I've seen something similar on a TV documentary many years ago and if it was Red Kites on the program I think you may have witnessed a pair courting.
If that's the case, they have either been more discrete or celibate in recent years.

Harold
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Old 26th January 2017
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Re: Red Kite Dogfight

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If that's the case, they have either been more discrete or celibate in recent years.

Harold
I seem to recall that the pair are supposed to lock talons and tumble in the air so maybe it was only a practice or immature birds. Or I may be thinking of a different species entirely.
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Re: Red Kite Dogfight

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I shall mention it to my good friend who was involved in the reintroduction of the Kites and a professional naturalist. He may have an insight.

Peter
OK so I have spoken to my friend and red kite expert and I will give you a shortened version of the ten minutes of very thorough explanation i enjoyed on your behalf.

It is courting behaviour. The birds have long lasting pairs but they drift apart as it gets colder and prey (mostly worms and roadkill) gets scarcer. As they come back together they pair and will eventually pair strongly and breed. So you should see more of the behaviour especially when the weather warms and prey is about.

On what you saw. The female is larger and will be the bird on top. The male turns upside down and they will lock talons as a part of the pairing (you may see this another time). There should be some sounds and calling as they engage in the behaviour. I cannot write his vocalising of sounds down but it was rapid high pitched squeaks.

The male stays on territory and the female drifts in. Although territorial they are also communal in nesting and breeding. So a wood nearby may well have half a dozen nests and pairs of birds. Having seen and photographed an abandoned nest they are very large and contain branches as big as your leg so they are worth looking at.

But as it is a scheduled bird then avoid looking in the breeding season.

Hope that helps....
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Old 26th January 2017
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Re: Red Kite Dogfight

Peter,

Thanks very much. I had seen such behaviour in a film on TV but cannot recall which species it was.

If it was a worm which was passed across that would be beyond my eyesight. (Note: Must buy very expensive new telephoto to be sure of getting the picture ).

I suppose there is a chance that they might return to the same area of sky for further performances. As my standard macro lens is now the Olympus 4/3, and it is often on a x2TC, all I have to do is have my 4/3 70-300 to hand.

Harold
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Re: Red Kite Dogfight

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So a wood nearby may well have half a dozen nests and pairs of birds. Having seen and photographed an abandoned nest they are very large and contain branches as big as your leg so they are worth looking at.

But as it is a scheduled bird then avoid looking in the breeding season.

Hope that helps....
This Red Kite nest is from 2008 E3 and Sigma 135-400. It was about twenty feet up. That large branch would have been placed by the bird, but they do have a 6 foot wingspan..



Harold just to be clear my friend didn't say they would be passing worms, just it is a staple part of their diet. (he gets tired of correcting people who say they are a danger to sheep, dogs cats etc... so likes to ensure people think of them eating worms and squashed hedgehog and the like roadkill!)

But on the other hand they were sometimes known as the 'battlefield bird' as they helped clean up odds and ends after medieval battles.

(Nice muntjak pics Harold and Andy)
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Old 26th January 2017
Harold Gough Harold Gough is offline
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Re: Red Kite Dogfight

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(he gets tired of correcting people who say they are a danger to sheep, dogs cats etc... so likes to ensure people think of them eating worms and squashed hedgehog and the like roadkill!)

(Nice muntjak pics Harold and Andy)
There is a major difference between a predator, more accurately, raptor, and a scavenger, more akin to a vulture in behaviour.

The closest I have seen one was earlier this month, when one took off from just outside our lounge window. Presumably, it was clearing up one of our cat's kills.

Thanks.

Harold
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Re: Red Kite Dogfight

I once watched a couple of Carrion Crows walking on a frozen reservoir killing about a dozen Black-headed Gulls trapped in the ice so they weren't living up to their common English name.
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