Red kites are fly­ing high again

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

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

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