Ragtag Saturday: A Red Kite.

Ah, could I see a spinney nigh,
A paddock riding in the sky, 

Above the oaks, in easy sail, 
On stilly wings and forked tail.

John Clare (c. 1820)
Paddock is an old English name for the Red Kite

Red kite (Wikimedia Commons, Arturo de Frias Marques )

Red kites, coasting lazily across the skies on gentle thermals – floating, free-wheeling, gliding – command our instant attention.  When we spot them as we’re walking, we can’t help but stand and stare, and relish their easy command of an immense sky.  It’s that forked tail that gives them away.

And yet these noble-seeming creatures exist mainly on carrion.  They’ll swoop quickly down to snatch roadkill – after the crows have helped themselves – and take it off to perch on some quiet tree to dismember and eat.  Sometimes we’ll watch numbers of them wheeling above just-ploughed fields, questing for worms and small mammals.

Young red kite perching in a tree (Wikimedia Commons)

They used to be a very rare sight indeed.  But about twenty years ago, and thirty miles from here, some red kites were released onto the Harewood Estate as part of a conservation initiative.  We lived in Harrogate at the time, and got so excited if we were near Harewood, by very occasional sighting.

Fast forward a few years, and the kites reached the outskirts of Harrogate: we’d even spot them above the town centre.  Later still, they spread onwards and outwards  – north, south, east and west.

Yorkshire red kite sightings 2018
(www.yorkshireredkites.net)

And this week, just this week, for the very first time, this is what I saw, above the house, keeping an eye on me as I hung out the washing.  I’m very excited by our new neighbour.

A bit blurred, this image. But this red kite was very high above me.

Today’s Ragtag Challenge is ‘kite’.

27 thoughts on “Ragtag Saturday: A Red Kite.”

  1. We moved to a small village on the Northants/Oxon borders in 2006. One of the absolute joys that came with that move was the sight of red kites above us. I never tired of them. I’ve had to switch my allegiance to buzzards down here but the kite will also be special.

    (In one of those weird coincidences, a book I’m about to finish and very much want to write about features red kites. The writing is superb. I could co-opt your ragtag subject and turn it into a book post yet again!)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I can tell you now that the book is by Gillian Clarke and is called ‘At the Source: A Writer’s Year’. I have one chapter left (December) and I don’t want it to end. So many posts, so little capacity to produce them!

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  2. Another bird I don’t think we have–but how exciting to see them growing in numbers and to have your own, at your house! I feel the same way when I occasionally see a bald eagle near here. I need to get a photo!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh thank you for your observations of birds. This past week, I’ve been seaside watching pelicans and other seabirds swooping along the ocean and then abruptly diving into the water in search of dinner. Back home I’ve seen several hawks parched on electric lines and patrolling the roadside. I am looking forward to renewing my education in the field of birding. Thanks for the encouragement. Peace.

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    1. Ah, I was lucky enough to see pelicans when I was in London at That March last weekend. They live in St. James’ Park and have done for years. Up here, we’re still rooting for the red kites…

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    1. I’m with you on the roadkill, but I can’t say I’m any keener on killing my own meat, and defeathering or skinning it first, before eating it raw, so maybe stay human, or some vegetarian creature.

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  4. We are very fortunate here to have plenty of sightings of red kites on a daily basis, along with buzzards, falcons, hawks and harriers. They are so majestic and wonderful to see. Trying to photograph them is very difficult, so you did well to capture that shot.

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  5. Oh yes, they were part of our daily sightings in France too – wonderful. Our best memory was the day when we saw an eagle of some kind – not sure what – flying overhead with a writhing snake in its beak. Presumably it was the poor snake’s last memory…..

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  6. I remember seeing red kites above Harewood House when I visited several times as a graduate student at Leeds (in 2005-6). My husband has always been a huge fan of them (he’s even thinking of writing a book about them … shhhhh!), and we’ve based some of our travels around visits to feeding centres in Wales and Scotland. When we lived in Reading and environs we saw tons of them, even in our garden. Here in Newbury, though it’s not that far out from Reading, we only occasionally see them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, well, watch this space. My neighbour strongly suspects they’re nesting in a nearby tree, and we’re both keeping an eye on things. I await your husband’s book!

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      1. Oh the kite’s out of the bag now I see! The introductions at Harewood have been much slower to spread than those in the Chilterns were, almost certainly down to persecution, so it’s good to see that they’re starting to establish more widely.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I was always so jealous of my cousin (who lives near Aylesbury, Bucks) who has regular visits to her garden from kites and then I saw my first red kite last summer as it flew over *my* garden! I saw another last week as I drove home from Lowestoft. They have managed to get as far as the East Anglian coast at last! I had no idea they were so agile and graceful in flight until I saw one for myself. Unforgettable and unmistakable.

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