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Red Kite - P5280561cs
Red Kite – Milano Real – Milvus milvus
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Red Kite (Milvus milvus) is a medium-large bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as eagles, buzzards and harriers. The species is currently endemic to the Western Palearctic region in Europe and northwest Africa, though formerly also occurred just outside in northern Iran. It is a rare species which is resident in the milder parts of its range in western Europe and northwest Africa, but birds from northeastern and central Europe winter further south and west, reaching south to Turkey. Vagrants have reached north to Finland and south to Israel and Libya.
The Red Kite is 60–66 cm (24-27 in) long with a 175–195 cm wingspan; males have a weight of 800–1200 g, and females 1000–1300 g. It is an elegant bird, soaring with long wings held at a dihedral, and long forked tail twisting as it changes direction. The body, upper tail and wing coverts are rufous. The white primary flight feathers contrast with the black wing tips and dark secondaries. Apart from the weight difference, the sexes are similar, but juveniles have a buff breast and belly. The call is a thin piping, similar to but less mewling than the Common Buzzard.
Differences between adults and juveniles
Adults differ from juveniles in a number of characteristics:
•Adults are overall more deeply rufous, compared with the more washed out colour of juveniles;
•Adults have black breast-streaks whereas on juveniles these are pale;
•Juveniles have a less deeply-forked tail, with a dark subterminal band;
•Juveniles have pale tips to all of the greater-coverts (secondary and primary) on both the upper- and under-wings, forming a long narrow pale line; adults have pale fringes to upperwing secondary-coverts only.
These differences hold throughout most of the first year of a bird's life.
At signs of danger a mother will signal the young who will "play dead" to the extent that a fox will believe them to be dead and leave them, thinking it can return to eat them later.
The species nests in trees, often close to other kites; in winter, many kites will roost together. In the spring the nests are obvious at the tops of trees. From a distance they look like rookeries, including the swirling pattern of the birds. From closer to, one can see that the birds are not rooks but kites because of the more slender wings.
Adult red kites are sedentary birds, and they occupy their breeding home range all year. Each nesting territory can contain up to five alternative nest sites. Both birds build the nest on a main fork or a limb high in a tree, 12-20m high. It is made of dead twigs and lined with grass and sheep’s wool
Distribution and status
Red Kite, top, mobbing an adult White-tailed Eagle.
The Red Kite inhabits broadleaf woodlands, valleys and wetland edges, to 800 m. It is endemic to the western Palearctic, with the European population of 19,000-25,000 pairs encompassing 95% of its global breeding range. It breeds from Spain and Portugal east through central Europe to Ukraine, north to southern Sweden, Latvia and the UK, and south to southern Italy. There is also a population in northern Morocco. Northern birds move south in winter, mostly staying in the west of the breeding range, but also to eastern Turkey, northern Tunisia and Algeria. The three largest populations (in Germany, France and Spain, which together hold more than 75% of the global population) all declined during 1990-2000, and overall the species declined by almost 20% over the ten years. The main threats to this species are poisoning, through illegal direct poisoning and indirect poisoning due to pesticides, particularly in the wintering ranges in France and Spain, and changes in agricultural practices causing a reduction in food resources. Other threats include electrocution, hunting and trapping, deforestation, egg-collection (on a local scale) and possibly competition with the generally more successful Black Kite M. migrans.
The Westland Lysander was a British army co-operation and liaison aircraft. It was used during WWII, being renowned for its ability to operate from small, unprepared airstrips. This exceptional short-field performance made possible clandestine missions behind enemy lines that placed or recovered agents, particularly in occupied France. It originated in 1934 when the Air Ministry sought an aircraft to replace the Hawker Hector. Enquiries sested that field of view, low-speed handling characteristics and STOL performance were the most important requirements. The result was unconventional and looked, by its 15 June 1936 maiden flight, rather antiquated. Despite its appearance, the Lysander was aerodynamically advanced; it was equipped with automatic wing slats, slotted flaps and a variable incidence tailplane. These refinements gave it a stall speed of only 56.5 kts. Used unsuccessfully in France with the BEF it was only in August 1941 that a new squadron, No. 138 (Special Duties), was formed to undertake missions for the SOE to maintain contact with the French Resistance. Among its aircraft were Lysander Mk.IIIs which could insert/remove agents or retrieve shot-down Allied aircrew. The Lysander proved successful in this role and continued to undertake such duties until the liberation of France in 1944. In this manner, the pilots of No. 138 and, from early 1942, No. 161 Squadron delivered 101 and recovered 128 agents from Nazi-occupied Europe. The Lysander also joined the ranks Free French Air Force, FAFL, sporting the Cross of Lorraine on the fuselage and wings in order to distinguish their aircraft from those flying for the Vichy French Air Force. They were mostly employed on reconnaissance missions but were also used to carry out occasional attacks. The type also filled other, less glamorous roles such as target-towing and communication aircraft. Two aircraft (T1443 and T1739) were transferred to BOAC for training and 18 were used by the FAA. All British Lysanders were withdrawn from service in 1946. Export customers of the type included Finland (Mk I: 4, Mk III: 9), Ireland (Mk II: 6), Turkey (Mk II: 36), Portugal (Mk IIIA: 8), the USA (25), India (22) and Egypt (20). Egyptian Lysanders were the last to see active service, against Israel in the War of Independence in 1948. This, the last flying example, is part of the Shuttleworth Collection, seen flying at the British Army Air Corps' Wallop '08 air show.
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