Category Archives: Red kites

A kite for sore eyes

We spent last weekend at Bill's in Berkshire.

On Saturday morning, while I was playing fetch with Bill's dog, Skip, I heard a strange bird-call. I scoured the neighbouring copse with my binoculars for ten minutes before I tracked down the exotic creature: a great tit. Oh, well. Great spotted woodpeckers were drumming incessantly on tree-trunks and calling loudly, establishing their territories, but I only snatched a couple of glimpses of them as they flew through the trees.

Meanwhile, upstairs, Jen threw back the bedroom curtains, only to see a stag of some sort ambling across the field. Needless to say, I didn't see it.

A short while later, a red kite circled overhead, on the look-out for carrion. It was only then that it occurred to me that I should have had my camera ready, as you're practically guaranteed to see a red kite or two at Bill's.

Having learnt my lesson, I had my camera ready next morning, as I played ball with Skip once more. So, of course there was no sign of any red kites. Then, as we were packing, I glanced out of the window and saw three of them soaring together. In a blind panic, I fumbled my camera out of its bag, threw open the window, and managed to fire off a few shots before the kites disappeared.

Red kites

Red kite

Never, ever put your camera away! You should know that by now, Richard!

Cumbria

By a serendipitous coincidence, two of my best friends were both staying in or very near to Grange-over-Sands last weekend: Mike until noon on Sunday, and Stense on Sunday evening and Monday. So I invited myself over to Mike's place to kill two birds with one stone.

The weather, it must be said, wasn't much to write home about, but I did manage to get a hill-walk in with each of my pals: Hampsfell with Mike, and Whitbarrow Scar with Stense. Both of them brought black dogs named Milly along. In between these walks, I even managed to slot in a solo trip to Coniston Water on a brief literary pilgrimage.

I didn't see much in the way of birds and wild animals (other than a red kite twisting off across the fields), but I did manage to take plenty of moody, low-light and poor-weather photos.

Hampsfell
Hampsfell

Now, if you don't mind, my camera sensor is in urgent need of a clean.

Ball and kite

In Berkshire, visiting Bill. Fifteen minutes ago, I was playing ball with Skip the dog, when a red kite drifted by, low above the adjacent copse. It was silhouetted against the early morning sun, twisting its body, as kites do, to adjust its flight-path. It was clearly searching for carrion.

Red kites are doing pretty well down here. We almost always see one or two when we visit Bill: a conservation success story (red kites, that is, not Bill). They haven't managed to re-establish themselves in West Yorkshire yet. Perhaps one day. If the local gamekeepers will let them.

Oh, looks as if Skip wants to play ball again.

Raptor count

Travelling back north after visiting our friend Bill in Berkshire last Sunday, we spotted three red kites, about twenty buzzards, and a single kestrel.

Thirty years ago, it would have been (give or take): zero red kites, two buzzards, and thirty kestrels.

I worry about kestrels.