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Birds of Prey
Whether they’re swooping, soaring, hovering or even just sitting around, birds of prey are unmistakable. They’re right at the top of the food chain, which makes them not only incredible hunters, but also means that they act as indicators of the health of our environment. If they aren’t where they should be, then something’s wrong further down the chain.
There are a couple of sites on the trail where you are guaranteed a good view. The David Marshall Lodge has a resident family on camera, and even when they’re not around, there’s plenty of video footage to watch of the previous year’s family growing up. At Argaty Red Kites, the kites can be seen soaring over head pretty much all day, though the best time to go is at feeding time, when several dozen can gather and join in for an almighty food fight!
As for all the others, you have to trust to chance as you make your way round the Trail. But even if you do see something, how do you figure out what it is?
These pages should help you with identification, but there are a few key things to keep in mind:
Size – they come in all different sizes, from the tiny merlin, to the huge golden eagle.
Habitat – where did you see the bird? Read the guide to find out where they like to hang out.
What was it doing? – most of the time you’ll see them hunting, and they all have different habits. Kestrels hover, ospreys plunge, buzzards have a habit of sitting around and waiting for a meal to come to them.
Wings and tails – although many of them may look similar, there will be big differences to things like wing and tail shape. They also hold their wings differently in flight, for example, buzzards raise their wing in a v-shape when soaring.
We’ve given you details of the 12 birds of prey which are reasonably common to the area, but there are one or two exciting species that we haven’t mentioned, because there haven’t been many sightings of them here. One is the huge white-tailed eagle, which has been spotted at Argaty hanging out with the kites. Keep a look out for something that looks like a flying barn door!
Sadly, birds of prey are still being shot, poisoned and trapped around the UK, even though this has been illegal for many years. Even birds on the Trossachs Bird of Prey Trail have been targeted, and in 2007, 3 of Argaty’s red kites were found poisoned. To find out more about the issues, and to add your voice to the campaign to stamp out bird of prey persecution, click here.
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