Black Kite – 2012

Milvus migransBarcud DuVagrant

Black Kite near Castlemorris on 30th April 2012

 Photo (c) Clive Hurford 

While driving along the road from Mathry to Letterston with friends during late afternoon on 30th April 2012, I noticed a large bird of prey flying east as we passed Castlemorris.   My initial impression was of a large, very dark and small-headed raptor – strongly recalling a Black Kite, a species that I am familiar with from annual holidays in southern Spain.  At the earliest opportunity, I stopped the car at the side of the road and leapt out to get better views.   As suspected, the bird was indeed a Black Kite which was being constantly harassed by gulls and corvids.  The following notes were taken along with supporting photographs:

Size:  Medium to large raptor with a relatively small head, appearing larger than a Buzzard and more in keeping with Red Kite.

Structure:  Strongly recalling a kite or harrier.  Long wings held flat when gliding, but strongly bowed in active flight and bent back at the ‘wrist’.  Flight leisurely and quite buoyant.

Coloration: the bird was generally a dark chocolate brown, but with a pale diagonal panel on the inner section of the upperwing and pale bases to the primaries in the underwing.

Tail: Generally a dull brown colour with a shallow but noticeable fork.

I followed and watched the bird for about 10 minutes as it flew slowly towards Letterston, being constantly harassed by corvids and gulls until dropping from view and appearing to land.  I waited a further five minutes before leaving.  I also phoned David Astins to let him know the general whereabouts of the bird and asked him if he ensure that other birdwatchers were aware of the bird if they were interested in seeing.  Subsequently, the birds was seen by David Astins and one two others that evening, and I believe by a small number of observers the following day. 

Clive Hurford

More about the Black Kite in Pembrokeshire