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10. Red Kites & Farming (NTS Threave Nature Reserve)
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|Location||National Trust for Scotland Threave Gardens & Estate Castle Douglas Dumfries and Galloway|
| Red Kites & Farming|
Open country created by man
It is likely that red kites were not common in Europe before people cleared the original wild woods for farming. A patchwork of woods and farmland now allows kites to search for food over open land and to nest and roost in the woods. Farming in Galloway is mainly pastoral, both sheep and cattle, with intensive production of silage as winter food. Pastures are good places for small mammals and worms, whilst silage or hay cutting provides a bonanza of insects and carrion in summer.
The Farming Calendar – A Year-round Larder
Food is available all year round for kites in this area:
In spring, kites benefit from afterbirth; produced when livestock give birth to young in the fields.
In summer and autumn, kites can be seen searching for animals accidentally killed as hay/silage is cut and crops are harvested. They also fly above fields during ploughing in early spring, when worms and insects are unearthed.
During winter months, many small creatures hibernate or go into hiding, with kites depending more on carrion like pheasant, rabbit, and road-kills. Dung middens have always attracted kites and crows to farmyards, as they are great sources of worms and insects all year round.
Where to see red kites
Look out for these graceful birds as they glide in Galloway throughout the year. Why not visit Galloway Kite Trail around Loch Ken, just a couple of miles north of here? For more information, please pick up a trail guide leaflet