The na­ture of things

Red kite

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country Notebook - Edited by

ALARGE, twiggy nest high in a tree is the red kiteõs favoured nurs­eryñper­haps the dis­carded nest of a buz­zard or crowñbut a cushy lin­ing of ad­di­tional fur­nish­ings may be added if this re­mark­able scav­enger can find them. Woolly gloves, furry toys, socks, sheepõs wool, pa­per, moss, tights, flags, un­der­pants, pieces of sack­cloth and hair have all been dis­cov­ered in the nests of Mil­vus mil­vus.

Itõs noth­ing new. Ôwhen the kite builds, look to lesser linen,õ warned Shake­speare, in The Winter’s Tale. Kites were val­ued for cen­turies as Ôstreet clean­ersõ, pick­ing over dis­carded waste, as they still do in coun­tries where waste dis­posal is hap­haz­ard or non-ex­is­tent. Shake­speare noted Lon­don as Ôthe city of kites and crowsõ.

Although kites were sub­se­quently hunted to ex­tinc­tion in Eng­land and Scot­land and had al­most dis­ap­peared in Wales (a rein­tro­duc­tion pro­gramme was only started within the past three decades), their num­bers have in­creased ex­po­nen­tially, to the de­light of some and the equal dis­tress of oth­ers. What might be agreed upon, how­ever, is their impressive agility; kites are mag­nif­i­cent avi­a­tors, ris­ing with the ther­mals, div­ing and swoop­ing, steer­ing with sub­tle ad­just­ments to the long, forked tail.

A na­tive species, eas­ily iden­ti­fied by its impressive size, dis­tinc­tive tail, dark brown, chestnut and white plumage, itõs de­pend­ably seen along the M40 cor­ri­dor and on the downs. KBH

Il­lus­tra­tion by Bill Dono­hoe

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.