Windfarm impact studies on kites at Braes of Doune, Scotland

NRP was commissioned to undertake an intensive monitoring programme for red kites at the Braes of Doune wind farm. Work was initiated in 2004 as a requirement for consent of planning permission for a 36 turbine wind farm. The wind farm was finally completed and commissioned in 2007 and post-construction monitoring work continued until March 2012. This work consisted of vantage point observations, radio tagging and tracking of individual kites, turbine searches and carcass persistence trials. A total of 1486 hours of vantage point observations were completed from six vantage points. Eighty-four kites were radio tagged and 79 of these were studied.

Mapping of vantage point and radio tracking results indicated a reduction in activity at the wind farm site after construction although kites continued to use the area and frequently pass through the wind farm. Changing dynamics of the population may have been the cause of reduced activity rather than turbine avoidance. Survival of the tagged sample of kites was comparable to populations in areas where there were no wind farm developments.

Trials on searcher efficiency were carried out resulting in 81% of test carcasses located. Carcass persistence work with pheasants and buzzard carcasses indicated carcasses of buzzard lasted significantly longer than pheasant carcasses (see Urquhart et al 2015 below). The majority of buzzard carcasses persisted to the end of the 90 day search interval used during turbine searches. These results suggested the turbine search method was appropriate for detecting kite fatalities at the wind farm.

Three red kites were recovered dead as a result of turbine strike during the period including one of the radio tagged sample. The study individual was the only kite found through systematic turbine searches. Analysis of searcher efficiency and carcass persistence allowed for revised estimates of kite fatality rates at the wind farm. A newly derived rate of 1.28 kites killed by the wind farm per annum was in line with pre-construction Collision Risk Modelling work which gave a broadly similar rate of annual fatalities. The Central Scotland kite population continued to increase through the entire study period.

The kites were tagged with the help of Central Scotland Raptor Study Group and RSPB Scotland.

Our final report on the Braes of Doune red kite studies can be found here;

Duffy, K. & Urquhart, B. 2014. Braes of Doune Windfarm Report on red kite studies 2004 to 2012. Unpublished report to the Braes of Doune Wind Farm Ornithology Steering Group.

Our paper on carcass persistence can be found here;

Urquhart, B., Hulka, S. & Duffy, K. 2015. Game birds do not surrogate for raptors in trials to calibrate observed raptor collision fatalities. Bird Study 62, 552-555.

Principal Investigators: K. Duffy and B. Urquhart
Client: Scottish and Southern Energy
For more information please contact:

Red kite Milvus milvus at the Braes of Doune.Photo: G. Connelly

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