Red Kite De­light

One fam­ily’s ded­i­ca­tion has helped re­store a glo­ri­ous na­tive species to a lovely area of Perthshire

The Scots Magazine - - Polly’s People -

IAM head­ing south through the Sma’ Glen on my way to Ar­gaty, near Doune, a 526 hectare (1300 acre) es­tate owned by the Bowser fam­ily who run the Red Kite Cen­tre.

It’s a glo­ri­ous morn­ing and my drive is en­hanced by black­cock on their lek, ac­com­pa­nied by an iri­des­cent green sheen of wheel­ing lap­wing over­head.

At Ful­ford, three red kites are rid­ing the ther­mals high over a tapestry of an­cient oak wood. Low sun paints tree­tops with a softly green­ing yel­low. Fol­low­ing an ex­treme spell of in­tense cold, we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the hottest early sum­mer on record.

This area is a favoured spot for the glo­ri­ous red kite, ideal open farm­land with per­fect com­mu­nal roost sites, and a good sup­ply of small mam­mals and car­rion. There are rab­bits aplenty here, and their un­suc­cess­ful games of Rus­sian roulette with cars leads to easy food for kites.

Kites are lazy, the ul­ti­mate scav­engers. Over the years I have seen more and more here, and fre­quently watch them drift­ing into their roost sites. It’s a sight that never fails to thrill, for the red kite is one of the most glo­ri­ous of all rap­tors.

It’s likely most of the birds I see have orig­i­nated from the south, from Ar­gaty, as young kites are no­madic and have grad­u­ally es­tab­lished a thriv­ing pop­u­la­tion here too.

I stop. A cuckoo calls and over the moor­land the haunt­ing cries of curlew drift wist­fully, while willow war­blers and a chif­fchaff, a whitethroat and the mag­i­cal song of a black­bird add to the morn­ing’s or­ches­tra­tions. The kites sky-dance us­ing their

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