Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Gibside's raptors

Gibside is home to four resident species of diurnal raptors (bird of prey).  Red kites are the largest of these, followed by the buzzard, sparrowhawk and kestrel.  These birds usually use the same nesting territory from year to year, with some even using the same nest.  Last year was a poor year for many nesting birds, with early spells of cold, wet weather and failures among raptors were high with some not even attempting to nest.  Two pairs of kites nested here last year but unfortunately both failed to raise any young and when this occurs it often prompts the pair to move to a new location the following year.  As a result we only had one pair nesting this year in a new location, the other having moved to a new area off-site.  Gibside's pair successfully fledged two chicks and these were recently rung and wing-tagged by FORK (Friends Of Red Kites) members for future identification.

Tree surgeon climbing tree to kite's nest

Red kite chick being rung

Red kite's feet with ring on leg

Young kite after ringing and tagging

Adult kite with wing tag

Buzzards have been very successful in spreading throughout the Derwent Valley in recent years and Gibside has three nesting pairs.  This year two nests have produced three chicks with the third as yet unknown.

Young buzzard recently fledged from nest

Sparrowhawks are a particular favourite of mine, and being later nesters most will only be hatching eggs now or will have very recently.  Last year two pairs bred but only one was successful, raising three chicks. 

Sparrowhawk nest with three chicks 2013

Most years two to three pairs of kestrels nest here and occasionally they have used nest-boxes designed for tawny owls.  None have been used this year however, with owls and an odd pair of stock doves in most of them. 

Young kestrels from an owl box

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