Could this be a swallow tailed kite?

  • In reply to rspbailey:

     Sorry not to have included the photo with my first message.  My friend, who I have known for a long time says that while he was walking in Evington Park he heard a loud squawking sound and then looked up to see this bird.  He likes to take his camera with him and snap pictures of things that interest him.

    I hope I manage to upload the photograph this time.


  • Blimey. I'm inclined to say that yes, it's definitely a swallow-tailed kite. Wow.

    Our herring gulls are red listed birds.  Think about that the next time you hear some flaming idiot calling for a cull of them.

  • Thanks Helen.

    That is definitely a STK but that image also has many artefacts, as well as being heavily cropped and enhanced, and also that photo has been taken of either a camera screen or a laptop screen - I am a graphic designer by trade and know what I'm talking about.

    So if you could get the original photo uploaded here which will contain the EXIF data - you say your friend always has his camera with him and the original image seems of very good quality so my bet is that all that data will be within that original image - then we can study the image, the time and even the location as GPS is also usually saved within an image too, and from that we can go forward and contact the local recorder. This image alone will not do for that.

    Germain says about one being reported in Kent, but if you read further into that sighting people are sceptical as the original image was one of a speck in the sky and the image that that person used to report the sighting was actually taken from the internet. Other people who saw the bird only reported seeing it - there is no other evidence.

    So you see how important a good photo like this can be.
  • Hi Germain,

    Thanks for this. We also had a bit of a mess up, because my friend sent me his picture for the local community magazine which we circulate in Evington to 5,950 people bi-monthly. We are all volunteers and volunteers post the magazine by hand through doors. Well when I got this article from someone I had known for a long time, and not being any sort of bird expert myself, I sent it on to our graphic designer volunteer and suggested it could make the front cover. Unfortunately the graphic designer wasn't much of a bird man either and substituted some of the pictures of other common birds for stock ones he thought had better resolution, but he also substituted the Swallow tailed kite picture as well for a stock one on the magazine. I didn't notice because I had a lot else to do. Even though the article pointed out that it was extraordinary to see a swallow tailed kite in Evington Park, nobody got in touch except one volunteer distributor who accused me of irresponsible journalism and said he would not deliver his 54 copies. (for pdf of magazine go to I pointed out that there was a lot else in the magazine that people might want to know about, but he wouldn't budge. I have since said that I hope the County organiser will look at the picture on my friend's camera, but he said the county organiser has already said that it is a picture of a red kite and it is malting. I think he does believe me when I say I didn't think my friend would pull off a hoax. He even said he could understand how this could be mistaken for a Swallow Tailed Kite. It is just unfortunate that the graphic artist changed the picture. Maybe the county organiser has been influenced because this man doesn't want to climb down now? Is there any way of getting another professional opinion? I don't even think these local critics think it is a hoax because I have been an editor for over 15 years and do take my responsibilities seriously because I am passionate about telling very local news and local people's stories. I am now told not to do wildlife reporting without very thorough checking and must write a retraction for the next issue.
  • Hi Robbo,

    Yes of course. But the issue I have isn't about whether the photograph is a hoax or not, it is the issue that a local twitcher, in touch with the County recorders, says that although he understands why the photographer identified this as a Swallow Tailed Kite, it isn't, it is a red kite that is molting. Unfortunately the article I printed in the local magazine (I am the Editor) really did have a stock photo of this kite because I guess the graphic artist though a picture of the bird with wings outspan looked better. It was my fault not to spot the substitution.

    This was the article, "Living in Evington for the last even years, Kate and I (Osy) have enjoyed walking through Evington Park most weeks in sun, snow and even a bit of rain. We have made lots of friends, both human and dogs, admired lovely flower beds and seen many a squirrel and the old fox - and rat (lol) - and, of course, enjoyed the birds.

    One day last month I looked up to a very distinct and unusual sound and was amazed by a large strange bird flying around in the sky. I managed to get a picture and, checking later on the internet, found I had spotted a Swallow-Tailed Kite, native to Peru, USA and Northern Argentina. I had been overjoyed earlier in spring to have seen a Spotted Woodpecker pair nesting up in the big tree by Evington House, but this, big extraordinary Swallow-Tailed Kite - WOW.

    The only question is, what was it doing in Evington, and how did it get here?"

    There were inset photographs of a pair of wood pigeons, a greater Spotted Woodpecker, Blue Tit, Green Woodpecker Robin and a bird box with a blue tit nesting. Also a Red Kite in flight. Some of these photographs had been substituted for stock photos as well, so it is all a bit of a muddle.

    I am under pressure to print a retraction. Of course I am to blame for not spotting that the original photos sent had been substituted. However if Osy still has the photograph on his camera, then despite the muddle, there should be a fair process for deciding if this was a genuine sighting or not.

    There are many witnesses that see that Osy likes to walk around Evington Park and take photos of things that interest him and he has a good camera. I have known him for many years.

  • Hi Helen,
    The problem is we can't comment or assist without seeing the original but I have to say if the county recorder has already looked at it and said Red Kite in moult then it is 99% most probably is. County recorders are all highly experienced in their sphere and to have a 'Mega" on their patch would not be lightly brushed off

    Cin J

  • Hi Helen, seems to be an awful lot of confusion here - so, in an attempt to help you clear things up -

    The picture you have posted here is definitely a Swallow Tailed Kite. Is this the original picture Osy took, or one that was substituted in the magazine?

    If the picture you have posted is the picture a 'local twitcher' has identified as a moulting Red Kite then i'm afraid he doesn't know what he's talking about. I don't believe a County Recorder would identify that bird in the picture as a Red Kite. Apart from the fact the shape and proportions of the bird in this picture are completely wrong for Red Kites, Red Kites do not go through a moult which completely changes their plumage, it's more like losing a few feathers every year to be replaced by new ones.

    Osy may have misidentified the original bird he saw and photographed, it can happen to anyone even those of us with many years experience under our belts. It would be fairly easy to post the original picture that Osy took onto this forum, then that bird will be positively identfied by one of the very experienced members here.
  •   Thank you for your reply.  The reason I am not happy is because the local twitcher says "I have been the intermediary between Osy and the county bird recorder.  Osy's queries have been answered.  Please would you let me know how you plan to make this front page mistake clear to our readers?

    It was a pity a stock photograph appeared in the magazine.  However, on this site I haven't posted the stock photograph, only the originals Osy sent.  It isn't right if the County recorder is making a decision just because the sighting is very unusual or for political reasons to agree with his friend.

    I enclose the photographs of the bird Osy calls a Swallow Tailed Kite and one he sent me called a Red Kite.

    Thank you for your interest.


  • In reply to Helen Pettman:

    Helen Pettman said:


    This is a Red Kite 

    Cin J

  • In reply to Helen Pettman:

    The smaller picture is a Red Kite, I presume this is the photo all the hoo ha had been about. Wrong photos can easily end up in finished articles if proof readers do not have knowledge of the subject of the article. It happened to me several times when I used to write our club annual report but left proof reading and photo selection to our chair. This usually went to print at the time I was on holiday so I never saw the result until it went out to members


    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can