Yesterday Richard Peters and I took a trip down to visit the Great Bustard Project in Wiltshire, armed with cameras and big lenses. We had been warned that our chances of seeing any Bustards this time round were limited and therefore we didn’t have high expectations. However this didn’t dampen our enthusiasm in the slightest, as wildlife photography is more often than not dictated by chance and dependence on some expert knowledge. Read more
The more observant of you may have spotted that I have a thing for reintroduction programmes. Well you are absolutely right, I have always been fascinated by Red Kites and after visiting the Great Bustard Group today, I have gained even more of an interest in this subject.
I am planning to explore this natural history topic in more depth next year along with my other endeavours in the world of nature photography around the South of England. If you know of any interesting sites or projects that are running around the country (maybe you run one yourself) – Please get in touch, I would love to hear more and visit you someday.
Today we visited a fantastic project and got to see our very first Great Bustards. The Great Bustard Project has been running for about five years and their aim is to gradually reintroduce Great Bustards to the UK, a species that once roamed our countryside until persecution rendered the very last of the British species extinct in the 1840’s.
Its funny how one very small post I made on this blog earlier this year has sparked off quite a few comments about Red Kite sightings in Hampshire. Thing is this is quite significant and as a member of the RSPB, it is very exciting to see that these splendid birds are living what seems to be a very comfortable existence.
My interest in this particular species goes back many years. Read more
Just seen a red kite near Hook in Hampshire! They are spreading!
If you want to see Red Kites in the wild, head for Buckinghamshire and for the village of Stokenchurch. On a good day you can see probably 40 birds up in the sky at the same time. They climb to incredible heights until they become nothing more than a mere speck in the clouds and gradually descend towards terra-firma at which point you can witness them circling in large groups.
On my first visit to the area I spent a number of hours driving around to find the best spot to set up for the day with the camera gear. I stopped dead in my tracks as a group of twelve kites dive bombed a pond outside a farm. I could see them at close quarters and they didn’t seem at all perturbed by my car. I tried to take a few shots through the window but it didn’t work, as soon as they caught my movement they retreated, gained altitude and once again became specks high in the clouds.
The photo shown here was taken from a small woodland copse in a field about a mile outside of Stokenchurch. I sat there for awhile watching these fantastic raptors circling above and gradually they came in close enough for me to be able to take some decent shots. There is no doubt that with a little more research I could probably better this and get even closer and without the need for a beefier lens (my biggest is a 500mm and the one I used for this shot). One option would be to set up a hide in a good location and spend some more time there which is something I am planning for another day!
Just in case you are wondering if I had any luck at all with getting a half decent shot of a Red Kite, I have yet to achieve that goal!
I have found a couple of great places where I can get the shot I am looking for but its going to take a little more time than I first anticipated. I need to find a place where I can hide myself and I need a longer lens. I do have a 500mm Sigma but I just feel that I may need something even bigger to be able to get closer to the subject without threatening it with my presence.
If you are wondering where you may find Red Kites, your best bet is pretty much anywhere in the Chilterns and that extends between Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. I have also heard that they can now be seen very close to Newcastle and some may even be roosting in Gateshead! If you live in or near Wales, check out Gigrin farm as there is a special feeding station there where you can get a very good view of these fantastic birds.
If you have any luck photographing them, please drop me a line 🙂
In the past week I have been doing a little bit of research into the booming population of red kites that now grace the skies of Buckinghamshire, especially around the Chilterns. I am hoping to get some excellent photos at some point but so far I have not had any joy. I shall keep you posted…
As we drove up the M40 yesterday through the Chilterns we were amazed at the number of Red Kites that we saw. This fabulous bird of prey was introduced back into the UK a few years ago and recently its population in southern England has boomed. We probably saw about 15 yesterday during our journey.
Last year we spotted 20 Red Kites in one single group that were all gliding over a large field when we went across country (once again the Chilterns).
More information can be found at the following site www.chilternsaonb.org/caring/red_kites.html