Red kites are flying high again
IT’S amazing how work follows you on holiday when you work for the Wildlife Trust.
Even a simple walk with the dog along a coastal path turns into a hunt for willow tit habitats.
And then there is the big day out – and forgive me for going over a little bit of old ground – to see the red kite feeding station.
I am in Castle Douglas, in south west Scotland, a kind of undiscovered part of the world where the pace of life slows and stops – and that’s lovely.
Some years ago they reintroduced red kites to the area and now there are hundreds of them. So when you visit the feeding station, on a farm in the countryside, you are in for a spectacular treat.
When we arrived there was the unexpected pleasure of seeing a group of goats and their kids happily feeding around the red kite platform. Surely some mistake.
Then as feeding time nears, the trees around the site begin to fill with large birds, dark reds with adults and more muted colours in the youths.
The farmer wanders out with a bag full of road kill, collected by local people, which is nice, and then, suddenly, the skies are full of V-tailed birds of prey.
To say this is spectacular is a massive understatement and I thoroughly recommend this experience.
Reserves in the north west of England are now on the flight path for a number of red kites.
There have been releases in Scotland, North Wales and Yorkshire, with the latter probably offering our local sightings.
So it is only a matter of time before red kites nest on this side of the Pennines.
They are distinctive birds, about the size of a buzzard but, in flight, they have an obvious V-shaped tail. They also have a “mewing” call when they are flying, so you might hear one before you see it.
I find this really exciting and heart-warming to know that we have invited these magnificent birds back into our country after wiping them out in less-enlightened times. Keep your eyes peeled this summer.
The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside is dedicated to the protection and promotion of the wildlife in Lancashire, seven boroughs of Greater Manchester and four of Merseyside.
To become a member go to the website: www. lancswt.org.uk or call 01772 324129. For more about Cheshire Wildlife Trust see cheshirewildlifetrust.org. uk.
●● A red kite at Castle Douglas