Galloway Kite Trail RSPB The Old SchoolCrossmichaelCastle Douglas, DG7 3AP, GB
calum.murray@rspb.org.uk 01556 670464 (feeding station 01644 450202)
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Glenlaggan GKT Info Shelter (lay-by on A713, ½ mile north of Parton)

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Red Kites at Roost

The red kite (Milvus milvus) is a very gregarious bird of prey, often coming together in large groups at communal roosts near here in autumn and winter.

The Communal Roost
Approaching sunset, foraging over for the day, kites return to their woodland roosts.  Depending on weather the birds may then stay in the air for a while, circling and chasing one another in pre-roost gatherings, before landing in the trees to settle for the night.  This social spectacle is most likely at dusk on windy afternoons, when kites can soar and glide effortlessly.
Numbers decrease in spring and summer when mature adults leave the communal roosts for their breeding territories.  Immature and non-breeding kites continue to roost together but may move around using different sites throughout the year.

Why roost together?
On leaving the roost it may be that kites increase their chances of finding food by watching one another in `network foraging’.  There may also be a `strength in numbers’ aspect to roosting, with greater protection from predators in coming together.

Airds Wood
One of the largest kite roosts in Galloway is found on the other side of Loch Ken at Airds Wood. This predominantly oak woodland provides ideal habitat for a rich variety of wildlife and is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest.  The best views of gathering kites can be enjoyed from this lay-by, the loch shore, or from the viewpoint on Parton Walk, opposite Loch Ken Holiday Park, a few hundred metres to the south of here.

Very Social Raptors
Kites can sometimes be seen interacting together away from roosts, and this can often be very spectacular.  At Bellymack Hill Farm Kite Feeding Station, near Laurieston, you can get close-up views of play-flying and food piracy as kites come to feed and bond with others at the gathering.

Dumfries & Galloway Leader Local Action Group