Red kites are flying high again
I WORKED in Scotland for a year. Nobody understood a word I was saying – or so they pretended.
When England won at football I would announce that it was a ‘great day to be English’ to much muttering. To be fair I always celebrated any Scottish victory with ‘it’s a great day to be British’, but the muttering continued.
Anyway, before I was chased back over the border I wrote a number of stories about red kites being introduced into Dumfries and Galloway.
Red kites vanished from our country after persecution by hunters who claimed they were eating all the game, and spoiling their fun because it gave them fewer animals to shoot.
The reintroduction came after some educational work when landowners were persuaded that red kites don’t kill their game birds but are scavengers preferring carrion (dead stuff), scraps and smaller prey, like rabbits.
A few birds were released in Scotland, Wales and Yorkshire in the 1990s and then it was fingers crossed.
Some 15 years later I was allowed back over the border on holiday, and we followed the Red Kite Trail in Galloway, ending up at a feeding station. It was an experience I will never forget. As the owners laid lots of chicken on a table in the middle of a field, we stood behind a wall and watched.
At first one or two of these magnificent birds appeared then... it was like a Spaghetti Western and more than 100 red kites were circling above us.
The birds swooped in and grabbed the chicken before flying off to eat away from prying eyes.
Red kites are pretty easy to identify being a large bird of prey with a long, forked tail. They also make a distinctive mewing call as they fly gracefully above our heads.
A red kite has angled, red wings that are tipped with black and have white patches underneath. They are pretty easy to spot. These are timid birds despite their size and not really aggressive at all.
The fantastic news is that red kites are now being spotted over Lancashire and Greater Manchester. We believe these are some of the offspring of the early Yorkshire releases coming over the Pennines looking for new territories.
It won’t be long before they are nesting here again after a gap of more than a century.
To support the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside text WILD09 with the amount you want to donate to 70070. The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside manages around 40 nature reserves and 20 Local Nature Reserves covering acres of woodland, wetland, upland and meadow. The trust has 27,000 members, and over 1,200 volunteers.
To become a member of the trust, go to the website at www. lancswt.org.uk or call 01772 324129. For more information about Cheshire Wildlife Trust, call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewildlifetrust. org.uk.
●● A red kite flying over fields