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After two outstanding winters, the 2017 counting falls back down to a more "classical" level although there is still a considerable population in the country. For instance, in the Massif Central, 1200 birds have been counted, which is quite a consequent number, but 2 000 less birds than in 2016. Cantal registered its third best counting whereas the voles proliferation dropped. Haute-Loire set its new record with 450 birds; low snow falls before the counting favored this situation. For 5 years now, Ardèche hosts more than 100 birds. A few birds spent winter in the Var, and an unchanging number of birds stayed in Crau. In the north-east region, headcount is low in Champagne but Côte-d’Or hosts a nice number of 136 birds. Even more occasional, almost 150 birds were found in Franche-Comté (3rd best counting) and about 30 in Alsace for the 3rd year in a row. Corsica breaks a new record with 514 Red kites.
After two outstanding winters, 2017 counting falls back down to a more classical level. Indeed the huge voles’ populations between 2014 and 2016 enhanced the great red kite wintering, but the voles population collapsed in spring 2016. Only the “Chataigneraie catalienne” seems to still offer such conditions and hosted a good wintering. Early November snow chased some birds but December was mild with little snow which melted rather quickly (except in La Planèze de Saint-Flour). The persistent frozen soil during the counting week obviously disturbed the birds, and led to an important roosts mobility. Furthermore, it seems that migrating birds from central Europe chased some of the local species. Therefore, the number of birds might have been underestimated, especially in west Cantal and Haute-Loire. An intense fog complicated the counting on the biggest roost in Puy-de-Dôme.
France and Switzerland have been organizing a roost counting every first weekend of January for eleven years. This way bird population and distribution during wintering can be monitored in all Europe. Thanks to a great mobilisation of the national network “Milan royal”, 11 376 birds in 247 roosts have been identified in France in January 2016.
Over the years, the LPO tries to involve all the countries where the specie could spend the winter, hoping to get the most accurate assessment possible. All Europe will rally on January 7 & 8 to count Red kites: France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, Austria, Denmark, Germany but also the Czech Republic, Belgium, Luxembourg, Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania, etc. Red kites will be counted next week end in Portugal.
La Mission rapaces wishes you a happy new year 2017 and wishes a great monitoring season of the wintering/nesting/migrating Red kites. Let’s hope this new nesting season gives birth to a lot of young Red kites. La Mission rapaces thanks all the observers and coordinators for their remarkable daily mobilization for this symbolic species.
La Mission rapaces
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