Winter roosts and Red Kites

Roter MilanJust before sunset there some activity is in the air. Red kites (Milvus milvus) can be seen against the dark winter sky. They gather. Dozens of Red Kites perch on tree tops spread across various spruce trees. Again and again Red Kites flies up, does a few laps over the snow-covered landscape, then change the treetop. The Red Kites prepare for the night. They are here to sleep together in the nearby grove. One by one, the Red Kite retreats there as darkness increases. Then, with the last light of day, they all fly up again before finally settling down. More than 40 of the imposing birds of prey are circling over the high plateau of the Wildenburger Ländchen in the Eifel in western Germany on this foggy evening. These elegant raptors meet here before they fly to the roosts in the groups of trees every evening. A spruce forest near a stream is also regularly visited by the Red Kites. A spectacle that, viewed from afar, seems almost reverent in the wintry stillness.

Every year over 40 Red Kites gather in autumn. In the early hours of the day, the Red Kites can then be observed in the first morning sun on the tops of the spruce trees preparing for the day.

No wonder ornithologists are fascinated by this spectacle. It is not entirely clear why Red Kites congregate in such roosting places in winter. Some fly more than 20 kilometers from their territory to a sleeping place every evening. The fact that the Red Kites expect protection from other, stronger, raptors by sleeping together could be one explanation. However, the only two predators that can threaten Red Kites are the Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) and the Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo), both of which are found in rather low densities.

If you look up at the sky in Brandenburg in spring, it seems as if it is teeming with Red Kites. You often see not just one, but two or three of the elegant raptors circling with the contrasting rusty-brown plumage, the gray head and the deeply forked tail, which is easily recognizable even for those who are unfamiliar with birds.

This cannot be taken for granted, as the Red Kite was almost exterminated in the 1960s. As a purely European species, the Red Kite has a relatively restricted population range. A migrating Red Kite at one of the hotspots of (southern) European bird migration, such as Batumi in Georgia, is a sensation. It is therefore all the more important to ensure the continued existence of the Brandenburg population and to protect nesting and roosting sites from disturbance.

To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western palearctic.  Trips to remote places like this one to capture images not only of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. The nice image of the blog is only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Picture Shop” very soon. Just give a message, if could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.

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