Les quelques données récoltées demeurent néanmoins intéressantes. En voici une petite restitution chronologique :
- mi-octobre : alors qu'un des jeunes de Romulus est contrôlé en Extremadure, Romulus, lui est toujours sur son site de nidification en Auvergne ;
- 23 novembre : Romulus est toujours en Auvergne. Va-t-il hiverner sur son site de nidification ?
An adult red kite fitted with an Argos/GPS transmitter: a first in France
On Saturday 3rd July 2010 at 2 p.m., we (Pascal Cavallin and his children, Sébastien Bonillo and I) arrive at the nesting site of two red kites on the Planèze de Saint-Flour plateau. It’s the perfect location, in a thin meadow twenty-five metres away from a quiet road, with the nest (used since at least 2004) lying in one of the four or five Corsican pines that survived the 1999 storm. We have barely parked by the roadside, 100 metres from the nest, when the birds, the only pair out of the seventy followed in the Auvergne region this year to have raised three chicks, become agitated. A bold pair, they became quite animated two weeks ago when the chicks in the nest were ringed, with the older, yellow-beaked female even attacking Serge, who was the climber that day, more than fifteen times! This was unprecedented in our six years of ringing experience and only goes to show how we much we want everything to work in our favour this time, after our lack of success in the Puy-de-Dôme department in mid-June. The weather’s on our side, it’s sunny and warm with cumulonimbus clouds forming to the west, above the Cantal Mountains – these soon shade the intense heat of the sun... The three chicks, almost ready for their first flight, are lying in the nest.
We set up the capturing device, which takes fifteen minutes of meticulous work following Pascal’s instructions. The pair are agitated throughout this process, just above us at a very low height. There’s no need for us to stay and check the device as we can watch it from our vehicles 100 metres away at the side of the little road...
That’s it, we’ve done it. But where have the pair gone? Presumably, tired of panicking and producing their distress call, the birds must have flown off...
We walk away from the capturing device towards the road: five metres... ten metres... fifteen metres... twenty metres... twenty-five metres... hardly have we climbed over the fence when we hear their distress call and the pair are there – one of the kites dives, hitting the net only as it comes up. It loops around and attacks again. That’s it, the bird is caught in the net. Pascal runs over and stuns the kite as the second prepares to dive as well. He frees the bird and we leave with it, climbing over the fence once more and heading towards the car, but the other bird is already there. I stay by the side of the road, only just hidden by a little hawthorn bush... Almost immediately, before my colleagues reach their car, the kite attacks and gets caught in the net at exactly the same spot as the first. I run over to stun it, Pascal passes the one he is holding to Seb and runs to join me to disentangle the bird – it’s the female! The first to attack must have been the male, then, even though it was much less aggressive than the female when we climbed to the nest to ring the chicks!
So now we’ve got both birds, which we weren’t expecting... What shall we do? We only have one transmitter, what a shame we can’t fit one on both birds! It’s a dilemma... Oh well, the most important thing is to obtain the data about how they use their territory. The choice is made – because the male’s quite big, he’s the one we’ll fit the transmitter to!
820 g, a male in good shape, it’s been decided! The transmitter will be fitted to him and will provide much more interesting data than a female that spends around five months at the site doing very little. She will be fitted with wing markings, like the ones that we put on her chicks.
With biometric data recorded, our equipment collected and photos taken with Bernard Raynaud, President of LPO Auvergne, who came to join us, the two birds are released, ready to reunite and preen themselves – it’s all over!!
We offer our apologies to the red kite family in question for all the stress they endured, although it is for the good of their species as the data collected from this project will essentially enable us to better understand their biology and, consequently, to better identify which conservation measures can be put in place to help them.
Romain Riols, LPO Auvergne
Unending thanks to:
- Pascal Cavallin, CRBPO accredited ringer and his friend Goliath.
- Sébastien Bonillo, kite nest tree-climber and assistant ringer in his spare time.
- Adrian Aebischer, Fribourg Natural History Museum, for his limitless generosity and kind help, to whom we owe the chance to use a transmitter and harness.
- Fabienne David, LPO Mission Rapaces, who coordinated the whole project and gave LPO Auvergne permission to collect the transmitter.
- CLS Argos for giving us a twenty-two gramme Argos/GPS transmitter, worth around €4000, and for supervising its working.
- Special mention goes to Aymeric Mionnet who manages the red kite ringing programme in France and Fabienne David who, two weeks earlier, in the rain, unsuccessfully hoped to witness this great event!
22nd June 2010: Failed attempts to capture red kites
The attempts to capture red kites that were carried out on 17th and 18th June were unfortunately not a success. We should acknowledge that particularly poor meteorological conditions did not make the project any easier.
The local press still came, however, and reported on the wing marking project that was carried out at the same time.
You can see, for example, footage of the event in television broadcasts (afternoon and evening news slots) on France 3 Auvergne (go to 6:47 of the lunchtime news show from 18th June), or also in press articles:
- La Montagne
A new attempt to capture red kites may take place at the end of June.
Thanks to all the team that took part, in particular Pascal Cavallin and Romain Riols!
La Mission Rapaces
16th June 2010: A free transmitter from CLS
On Thursday 17th June, an Argos-GPS transmitter, donated by CLS, will be fitted on to an adult red kite that was captured in the Auvergne region, in the Pontgibaud district of the Puy-de-Dôme department. The twenty-two gramme transmitter, powered by a solar panel, will be attached to the bird using a harness. It will enable the bird’s movements to be followed and its behaviour studied for the rest of its life, helping the biology of the species to be better understood. As a result, important information on territory use, commitment to breeding site, hunting areas, wintering areas and more will be collected. This will complete the data collected from the wing marking programme that has continued in France since 2005.
The area selected for this project lies at the centre of the Massif Central, a particularly important place for red kite conservation because it is home to over 40 % of France’s nesting population and 30 % of its wintering population. In 2008, an important conservation programme was also introduced to the area as a result of active participation from local wildlife protection groups.
A press statement inviting the press to follow this project can be found here.
By 2007, three transmitters had already been fitted to young red kites in the Franche-Comté region. As a result, one of the young kites’ migration routes could be followed to Spain, where the bird died, probably a victim of poisoning. Click here to find out more.
For several years, our Swiss counterparts have also been running a red kite tracking programme using an Argos transmitter. Click here to find out more.
Very soon you will be able to follow the movements and behaviour of the tracked red kite on this page.
La Mission Rapaces