Summer holidays last week with some time on the edge of the Brecon Beacons followed by a fabulous day walking in the Yorkshire Dales. Two rather different events were linked by close views of one or our most iconic species. The first a relaxing late afternoon with Gin & Tonic in hand, sat outside our delightfully cute shepherd’s hut nestled on the edge of the Brecon Beacons and then a rather less relaxing roadside stop to change a badly ripped tyre courtesy of a stray bit of Yorkshire stone wall. Both areas are strongholds for the Red Kite a bird that for some in the southern half of Britain is increasingly appearing in gardens.
Red Kites are the only resident kite species in Britain and are a conservation success story having recovered from years of persecution with the help of several reintroduction schemes and can now be encountered with some frequency in many areas in England, Scotland and Wales.
Both my sightings were of individuals typically flying quite low, slowly hunting for dead prey. Red Kites are almost exclusively scavengers and only occasionally catch live prey. Relatively easy to identify, with long wings, deeply forked tail and rufous/ginger cast over the body, wings and upperparts they are an elegant raptor with a lazy flight style, tails often twisting in the air as they search for food.