8 Mar 2010
THE UNFORTUNATE KITE
An interesting article on the Kites demise in 1939 and a year before I was born. In view of the misleading statements ... it is thought desirable to issue a statement of the facts concerning the Kite in the British Isles. . . . Two professional egg and skin dealers began to work South Wales systematically in 1893, and between that date and 1903 usually took from two to three clutches annually ... in 1905 only five birds were known to exist. Professional egg-taking ceased. ... At the same time, as recently as 1920, no fewer than four adults were sent to Aberystwyth alone for preservation. ... A search through the sale catalogues for forty years past has only resulted in tracing 28 British Kites' eggs . .. only 12 of which are of Welsh origin. In 13 cases I have been able to ascertain the prices realised, which work out at about six shillings per egg! "At the present time one of the greatest dangers to the Kite is the inflated idea as to the value of its eggs current in Wales. ... In addition to this, the Welsh Kites are a somewhat decadent race. The infertility of their eggs, a tendency to desert the nest and inability to hold their own against hordes of Carrion Crows, are all dangerous and disquieting signs . . . the egg collector is blamed for what, after all, is really the work of the gamekeeper."—The late Rev. F. C. R. Jourdain, The Truth About the Kite (pamphlet), 1932. "In all, six pairs were traced, five of these located as carrying to a nest. . . . No. 1.—Was definitely a young pair which carried to first one site and then another within a mile, but did not settle down . . . the pair were much disturbed by the odd freak cock, known by his conspicuous white feathers, who fought with the cock of the pair continuously. No. 2.— This pair . . . successfully reared one young bird. An attempt was made to approach this nest at dusk; this was prevented by the prompt action of the watcher and a near by farmer. No. 3.—In a spell of very hot weather, crows were attracted to the site by the increased food brought in, attacked the nest and the young were destroyed. No. .4 This pair ... we could not trace. ... I believe this to a pair which raised the two young seen in July in an area further North. No. 5.— . . . the tree was definitely climbed before night and day watchers were put on. . . . this nest was lost through the 'freak cock' fighting with the cock of the pair. There was continuous fighting for two days . . . The cock of the pair was badly injured if not killed. It did not return to the nest with food and after twenty-four hours the hen left altogether. No. 6.—This pair was seen . . , early in March, but nest was not found."—From the Report of Kite Preservation Fund, Bwlch, 1939.