Saturday, 23 February 2013

Red Kites

As I looked out of the bedroom window early this morning, on a cold day with bitter wind and tiny snowflakes falling, I watched a red kite starting to rebuild a nest high in the horse chestnut tree just beyond our garden. A pair has nested there for the last 3 or 4 years so I was not surprised, except that given the low temperatures it seems a bit early. On the other hand the nest building process is a long and thorough one. These are large birds who may attempt to raise 3 or 4 chicks. The nest needs to be strong and securely fixed in the high tree branches.

Red kites are becoming numerous in our area, having been re-introduced between 1989-1992 after a long period of extinction in England due to zealous Victorian game-keepers in the 19th century and the fact that for several centuries before that red kites were classed as 'vermin'.

We see them a lot now, swooping low over our garden or hovering over the roads looking for road-kill to scavenge. They are magnificent creatures, watching their apparently effortless flight using those enormous wings to ride the thermals is a joy. So today in my thankfulness series for Lent, I am grateful for red kites. Along with other carrion feeders they pick our roads clean of dead badgers, foxes and cats. And they are so beautiful to watch, which I am able to do every day, even without going outside our home.

You can read more about red kites and see wonderful photos and video clips at the RSPB site here or at redkites.net here.


4 comments:

  1. They are glorious birds, Nancy. One of the sites where they were reintroduced is less than 20 miles from us in Mid-Wales and we often see them swooping over the house and fields. Fancy having a nest so close to your house. :-)

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    1. I understand that the red kite has been voted the favourite bird of Wales - according to the Welsh Kite Trust - see their website here http://www.welshkitetrust.org/
      Amazing birds to watch aren't they?

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  2. I see them daily too Nancy. What a wonderful sight they are. In this immediate area, fully grown trees are a rarity (chopping them down seems to be a local hobby), but they drift above the house several times a day.
    Every time I reach for my camera they spot me and take off. But, one day.....

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    Replies
    1. I have the same problem with trying to photograph them.They respond so swiftly to a human moving with a camera and take evasive action. I tried to photograph the nest building last year - got some shots but my camera isn't up to it - would need really powerful telephoto lens I think.

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