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Old 23-03-09, 01:56 PM
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Question bird of prey

Whilst getting my children out of the car to go swimming this morning I saw an amazing bird of prey. We were in a village location just outside Hertford in the south east of England. The bird was hunting in a field we watched until it went out of sight but of course had no camera. It seemed big to me - bigger than the kestrels that you see above the hedgerows (but I am conscious that i could fall victim to that Father Ted perspective point as it was quite close). The thing that struck me was that it definitely had a forked tail and I thought that only kites had a forked tail (I am a complete novice but did get to see kites once in Brecon, Wales). We aren't in Wales and it wasn't red. My bird book tells me there are other coloured kites but I think they are very rare indeed so doubt it is one of those. The underside of both of its large wings was white and it seemed to have a large white patch on its chest. It did not seem to have a spotted plummage at all so my next best guess of sparrowhawk seems unlikely (though I know my dad saw one near here once eating a pigeon!). I apologise that there isn't much to go on but I would love to hear any of your best guesses.
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Old 23-03-09, 02:22 PM
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Hi, I live not far away from you just up the A10, there are red kites around here, they rarely look red to me, and I don't know about the white chest patch, but my best guess would be a red kite, we recently had a rough legged buzzard up here, but that doesn't have a forked tail,
jo
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Old 23-03-09, 02:54 PM
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It sounds to me to be a Red Kite it may be one of last years young and this would account for the white, although I saw an al white one in Scotland last year.

Did it look a bit like to one below?
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Old 23-03-09, 04:38 PM
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Definately sounds like a Red Kite, if the white "patch" was near the head it could be the whitish head markings, on older birds the whitish head can extend down on to the chest

Cheers, John
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Old 23-03-09, 06:59 PM
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Smile Thanks

Wow thanks for those responses. 4 confirmations is good enough to me especially that one with the picture. I had no idea that kites could be found in this part of the world which is so built up. Will keep looking- this is one very satified customer. I did say to my nearly 4 year old son that I thought it might be a kite, to which he replied "no mummy it was definitely a bird...."
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Old 23-03-09, 09:12 PM
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I would agree with the others, it has to be a Red Kite. It's one of Britain's major conservation success stories and I get to see them quite often in the Herts, Beds & Bucks areas. In fact there are many Buzzards in these counties as well, so keep your eyes open for them also.

Chris C.
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Old 24-03-09, 06:21 AM
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Default Red Kites

The forked tail sounds very much like a Red Kite. I hope your son starts enjoying birds too as I started when I was about 2 years old.
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Old 24-03-09, 01:03 PM
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Cool Thank you

I am really pleased that so many people have taken the time and responded. I had a quick look on the internet last night and there are quite a few records of red kites being seen in Herts so am now sure that this is what I saw. I also found this fab photo : Pauline Worrall Photography: Red Kite. Flying over my garden in Hertfordshire.
Will also keep my eyes open for buzzards.
The children (there are 3) are quite interested in the birds that come to our garden especially the brightly coloured ones. They point out the robins and magpies by name and we all get very excited on the few occassions that the woodpecker that we can hear all the time puts in an appearance. Sometimes fat pigeons land on the plastic roof of our conservatory and they love looking up at their feet!
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