Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Red Kites, Nant Y Arian 1st - 15th November

Red Kites in their hundreds take advantage of the daily 2pm (dst) feeding at Nant Yr Arian. The official viewing areas are on the lakeside and from a hide a few metres in front of the feeding area. These spots give close views of the frantic action as the kites circle in ever closer tighter formation waiting until simultaneously regarding it safe to come to ground and take the bait. Normally it is one brave individual who makes the first move triggering others to line up in a kind of vertical conveyor of aerial dive bombs as each bird lifts its broad tail and spills the air from its wings and drop in a twisting spiral to the ground. Rarely do the birds land, preferring to clutch a piece of meat in one swoop and eat on the wing, some individuals have perfected this technique so adeptly that they can fish for morsels dropped into the lake osprey style. This may be perceived as a safer method to some birds than taking food from the ground, others I am sure do not dare to use the feeding station at all, resorting to piracy in the air even though plenty of food remains for the taking on the ground. Once they have eaten, the kites who use the feeding area regroup to swoop once more, repeating the process three or four times before the crows move in to finish off the bait. Other birds including buzzards and occasionally goosander also take advantage of the rich pickings. The splintering whistles of kites being mobbed by other kites for their food can be heard long after the feeding frenzy has died down but as dusk approaches all the birds have drifted away on every point of the compass towards their more sedentary lives along the coast, over the wind turbines and into the wilderness of upland Mid Wales.

Chaotic and confusing, the view of kites at the food source is not the best for drawing and I have taken preference to working on a ridge above the action and away from the crowds. Here it is possible to almost be among the kites as they rise in formation before disappearing below the tree line to feed. With the right wind, luckily the prevailing South Westerly, the birds will hang above my ridge affording excellent opportunity for drawing postures of flight as they glide, chase and feed on the wing. Often here high above the fray I will notice other raptors, the ubiquitous buzzard, also kestrels and on several occasions a stooping peregrine falcon, why does it seem attracted to this gathering? would it dare mob a kite or even attempt a kill on these apparently easy targets or is it purely drawn to the energy and curiousness of this quasi-natural event?

1 comment:

  1. Amazing painting of all the kites in the air - must have been quite a sight!