In 2020 a total of 22 nests of Red Kites were recorded in The Netherlands, one of which was recorded in Spring 2020 at a new breeding site in the central Netherlands. The nest was detected in a Sots pine Pinus sylvestris on 27 April, some 40 m away from the nearest walking trail in a forested region open to the public; the incubating female left the nest during the disturbance. A second nest visit on 28 June revealed a chick of 37 days old (based on maximum wing chord); this bird was measured, weighed, ringed and provided with a GPS sender. The start of laying was back-calculated as 17 April, the day of hatching as 22 May. No further nest visits were carried until 15 July, when the data transmitted via the sender suggested that the nestling had died on 12 July. The chick was retrieved from the nest on 15 July, and turned out to be partly scavenged, most likely after its death on 12 July. The bird was stored for later postmortem analysis (no details yet). From the very start in early spring, the pair had been spotted by birders cum bird photographers, whereas the nest area was also frequently visited by non-birder pedestrians. Illegal hides were erected at a distance of 25-30 m and 80 m from the nest, used by many photographers, filmers and birders. None of these activities resulted in the collection of biologically relevant material. Making pictures or films was clearly the sole objective. Even a drone was illegally deployed, apparently to film the nest from the air. None of these activities were carried with the permission of the owner of the woodland and in general activities of birders, photographers and filmers near the nest lacked any coordination (including nest-searching all over again by new arrivals among the photographers). Interviews revealed that photographers considered themselves knowledgeable regarding Red Kites, disturbance and flight behaviour, but the frequency of disturbances, roaming the vicinity of the nesting site in search of the nest, erection of hides close to the nest, use of a drone and lack of permission of the owner of the nature reserve clearly showed that photographers and birders overestimated their knowledge to the point that even basics of ethical behaviour were disregarded. The widely advertised fact that Red Kites are sensitive to disturbance, particularly during (pre-)incubation, was completely disregarded. Although it cannot be construed without doubt that the failure of the nesting attempt was caused by overzealous photographers, it cannot be disregarded either.

De Takkeling

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Werkgroep Roofvogels Nederland

S. van Rijn, R.G. Bijlsma, & F. Bijmold. (2021). De mogelijke rol van natuurfotografen bij de mislukking van een broedsel Rode Wouwen Milvus milvus op de ZW-Veluwe. De Takkeling, 29(1), 73–82.