About Red Kites
Welcome to Argaty Red Kites!
Here on our farm just north of Stirling, we run Central Scotland's only red kite feeding station where visitors can watch these exciting birds and their spectacular flying.
The farm lies on the Braes of Doune in the area of Central Scotland where the RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage have reintroduced the red kite. It is with their help that we are providing a facility for enjoying the birds in comfort but without the risk of disturbing what is still a fragile population.
Food is put out for the kites each day throughout the year. The feeding, by the way, is actually minimal, it just gives the birds a helping hand. Up to thirty or so are attracted to the food depending on the weather and the season.
Watching from our purpose-built hide you will have the chance to view the spectacle of the kites' flying acrobatics set against the backdrop of our hill fields. Kites tend to feed on the wing and so you will see them swoop down to seize the food in their talons before they soar upwards again, sometimes being challenged by another bird for their haul.
Other birds you may be lucky enough to see include peregrine, kestrel, buzzards, sparrow hawk and hen harriers as well as a wide variety of smaller birds attracted by our conservation management. A recent survey recorded over a hundred species on the farm.
The population of kites is still small and extremely vulnerable but it is expanding steadily. The birds are easiest to see during the October to March period when the young ones are particularly gregarious. At other times of the year the birds are busy breeding and can be much more secretive – there is still a chance to see them though, along with the many other species that live on our farm. Here at Lerrocks Farm, we want you to enjoy the countryside, see the birds and learn how farming and wildlife conservation can work hand-in-hand.
While running an economic farm business on our thirteen-hundred acre sheep and cattle farm we are aiming to help support wildlife and to give our visitors the chance to learn about the countryside and what we do. We are also lucky to live in a part of rural Scotland which is still very accessible from all the major routes north.
Wing tags are fitted on kites at the patagium, a loose fold of skin between the shoulder and elbow. This method has been used for many years on a variety of bird species and causes no harm. Wing tags stay with red kites for life, unless they fall off! Most birds still carry two tags, fitted whilst ringing the young.
Wing tags allow individual identification of birds to establish such information as survival rates, age of first breeding, movement patterns and composition of breeding pairs.
It is because of the wing-tagging programme that a vet in Portugal was able to report in autumn 2003 the rescue of one of our birds found near Porto with a fractured wing. Now nursed back to health and released we have been watching closely to see if the bird reappears here.
Different colour tags are fitted to each wing.
1. The left wing tag denotes which population the kite belongs to:
- Central Scotland red kites carry a red left wing tag
- North Scotland birds carry a blue tag
- Dumfries and Galloway kites carry a green tag .
In 2010 at Argaty we have even seen one bird from Yorkshire, identified by its orange left wingtag .
2. The right wing tag colour denotes the year code (see chart below).
So that the tags can be read even if only one is visible, a bar at the bottom of the tag shows the colour of the opposite wing tag.
We are always keen to hear where kites are sighted and will pass this information on to the RSPB.
Contact us by e-mail: argatyredkites(at)btopenworld.com or phone us on 01786 841373.
|Location||Year||Kite's Left Wing||Kite's Right Wing|
|1997||Dark Green||Dark Green|
|South West Scotland||1996||Green||Yellow|