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Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Red Kite

An absolutely awesome moment this morning over my breakfast coffee. I usually have my coffee outside. Yes, even when snowing or raining (though I have been known to sit in the shed before now) as this is the only 10 minutes peace I'll get for most of the day. I had my coffee in one hand and my paper in the other when two birds sped past me really low down. I heard a thud and thought 'ouch, that has to hurt' when they came speeding back. A Red Kite following it's prey. The thud had obviously slowed down the hunted bird and right in front of me the Kite pounced. A few more panicked cheeps and there was silence with the Kite folding back one of its wings and just sitting looking around. Minimal movement of its head but lots of movement on its yellow eyes. A paving slab away from me. Yes, it would have been the perfect camera moment, but I just sat there watching, in a bit of a dilemma. When the wind blew the paper would flap and scare the Kite away, but if I moved to fold the paper that would also scare the Kite away.

The weirdest thing was after the Kite flew off with dinner the sky was full of quickly moving birds. Obviously a lot of them had ducked for cover early.

This particular Kite lives, I think, in the Kingswoods, and we often see it flying overhead. Too fast to ever get a decent shot though. We've often tried to tempt it down by imitating a wounded rabbit, but it only lowers down, has a look, then flies away.

The Red Kite was nearly extinct by the end of the 19th Century, so it's great to see it's survival and expansion of its breeding range to the point that, in this area, it's no longer a rare siting. We have a Red Kite breeding centre at Top Lodge, Fineshade, just down the road and by itself it's a wonderful place where you can go and see them but also watch live video feeds and see exactly how the birds are doing.

The view I usually see from the garden is of the kite sailing above, with a wingspan of nearly 2 metres when fully grown, it's a sight not to miss. We purposely go into the garden when we spot him and just stand and watch.

This is what I saw today - my very own raptor in action.

No apologies for the size of the pictures - this is a superb bird and the bottom shot in particular is fantastic.