Visit Wales Now

Visit Wales and see some dramatic changes to the landscape

The soaring red kite, the national bird of Wales .

Birdwatching in Wales

Birdwatchers travel to Wales to see the abundant and varied bird life. 

Of particular interest is the magnificent red kite, a symbol of Welsh resurgence. By the beginning of the twentieth century the red kite population was reduced to just a few breeding pairs that managed to survive in mid Wales. But thanks to conservation efforts the red kite population was rescued from extinction and there are now more than 400 breeding pairs in mid Wales.

Today, the famous red kite is facing a new threat: wind turbines. 

On June 11th, 2010, the first dead Red Kite was reported from Alltwalis in the Brechfa Forest. A visitor to Alltwalis found this dead kite under one of the turbines:

Red kite found under a wind turbine at Alltwalis in Wales 

The following letter was published in the Cambrian News on July 29:

Madam, Re: the controversy over the discovery of a dead Red Kite on Alltwalis Wind Farm near the base of one of the turbines.
 
Statkraft director Sergio Castedo stated in the Cambrian News, "It is important that the truth and facts behind this incident are communicated”. That is fair enough, but to claim that, 'Red Kite not killed by Alltwallis wind turbines' is disingenuous. This is not an established fact, it is not proven.

Nowhere in vet’s report does it state, "the red kite was not killed by the turbine", instead the veterinary surgeon states, “the exact cause of death was unable to be detected”, and that, “trauma would seem unlikely in light of the radiographic evidence.” Is it not rather unlikely that the only cause of harm/death due to a turbine would be a direct strike? The sudden drop in air pressure/increase in air pressure close to a turbine in operation could cause internal injuries and flight problems in itself.  Imagine the effect of falling off a ship and being churned in the water from a propellor, the pressure changes would probably do as much damage as a direct strike.

Red Kites don't generally drop out of the sky and die, but this one did and was found with dried blood stained around its mouth near the base of one of the Alltwallis turbines. I believe this established fact is significant. Other people can draw their own conclusions.

Given that Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM has written to Carmarthenshire County Council urging them to, “use the powers available to them to shut down the wind farm” until a Statkraft resolve the noise and flicker problems being experienced by some residents in Gwyddgrug, may I suggest that this would be a good idea such that the residents of Gwyddgrug can get a good nights sleep, and that the red kite can fly free without fear of being struck down by these massive industrial icons to green consumerism.

Tim Shaw , Dinefwr Green Group, Campaigns Coordinator, c/o The Green House Shop, Llandeilo.Tel: 01558 685353

 

Red kite killed by the blades of a wind turbine in Germany

Birds and wind turbines  

A red kite killed by colliding with a turbine in Spain, where up to
a million birds a year may be dying in this way

The following is an extract from an article in the Sunday telegraph on March 14, 2010. For the full article click here. 


"A feature of these supposedly environment-friendly machines is their devastating effect on wildlife, notably on large birds of prey, such as eagles and red kites. Particularly disturbing is the extent to which the disaster has been downplayed
by professional bodies, such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Britain and the Audubon Society in the US, which should be at the forefront of exposing this outrage, but which have often been drawn into a conflict of interest by the large sums of money they derive from the wind industry itself."


There is considerable evidence from around world that spinning blades have killed huge numbers of birds. This seems inevitable when one considers that turbine blades weigh in the region of 1.5 tonnes and their tips can travel at speeds of over 180 mph.

Turbines have caused the deaths of four white-tailed eagles on the isolated islands of Smola six miles off the Norwegian coast where 68 turbines are now in action. Thirty other eagles have failed to return to their nesting sites within the wind farm area according to wildlife campaigners. The dead birds were found between August and December last year. Two had been sliced in half, apparently by a turbine blade. Only a single youngster is due to be raised by just one pair this summer. The population has been falling since the first twenty turbines began turning in the autumn of 2002.

A major study into bird kills, carried out in northern Spain, found that about 6,000 birds and bats were killed by turbines in one year.

In 2008, the Regional government of Valencia, Spain, ordered 2 wind farms to be shut down after they butchered 200 griffon vultures and 100 more birds (official figures, possibly still shy of reality, especially the 100 birds..). The owning company won't comply, and will appeal the decision.

To see pictures of windfarm bird kills in Spain, click here.    

The turbines at Altamount Pass in California, the largest wind-farm area in the world, have on average killed 200–300 red-tail hawks and 40–60 golden eagles each year. At other wind turbine sites in southern California, an estimated 7,000 migrating birds are killed each year.

To find our more about wind turbines and bird kills, see the articles in English on the iberica2000 website.  

March 2009: RSPB calls for more UK wind farms

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has announced its support for an increase in onshore wind farms in the UK, stating that wind farms do not pose a threat to wildlife if carefully sited. The charity argues that climate change poses a long-term threat to many species and renewable energy projects such as wind farms will help to reduce that threat. The RSPB policy statement on wind farms can be see at http://www.rspb.org.uk/news/details.asp?id=tcm:9-213213.

The RSPB website also announces a new ‘green electricity’ scheme in collaboration with the Scottish and Southern Energy plc. For each new electricity and/or gas customer the RSPB solicits for this scheme, Scottish and Southern Energy donates money to the RSPB. Is it possible that this commercial arrangement with a wind farm developer has influenced RSPB’s views on wind farms? For details on the RSPB green energy scheme see http://www.rspb.org.uk/supporting/green/energy.asp.

Not surprisingly, not all birds experts and conservationists are in agreement with the RSPB’s call for more wind farms. For other points of view see http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1137922?UserKey.=

Wind turbines and bat kills

Bats kills at wind farm sites are a growing concern. It seems that bats are killed by the spinning blades as well as by wake turbulence. In a study of two wind farms sites in the USA, scientists found that the 66 turbines at the two sites killed as many as 2,900 bats during the six-week period of the study. They concluded that this was not a sustainable kill rate.  

 
A new study by the University of Calgary in Canada suggests that 'exploding lungs' may be the reason for the large numbers of dead, but apparently unharmed, bats found around wind turbines. The moving blades cause a drop in pressure that makes the delicate lungs of bats suddenly expand, bursting the tissue's blood vessels. This is known as a barotrauma, and is well-known to scuba divers. 

Click here to read the full article in the New Scientist

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