Monday 9 November 2020

7th November 2020 - Lockdown 2 - Day 3 - Red Kites

Overnight, the fog has descended and outside is really looking like a grey soup again. Despite the cold we took a cycle ride to York, but even the local rooks were sitting it out in the trees! 

Last Wednesday was however a much better day and a cycle ride up past the Towton Battlefield (War of the Roses 29th March 1461) was in glorous sunshine and relatively warm for the time of year. A field up there had been ploughed and numerous Redwings and a few Fieldfares were taking advantage of the soil life that had been uncovered. I have found these birds to be quite skittish when they see people, and difficult to photograph though I do remember one especially close up view of a Fieldfare one very frosty January morning in a tree by a footpath. 

Just a little further on, on the way down to the Crooked Billet pub, a Kestrel was mobbing a Buzzard and you could hear the kestrel's alarm calls as it dived at the Buzzard. Now, I know that crows attack Buzzards, seeing them as a threat, and indeed a couple of crows were doing just that, but I have never seen a Kestrel do this and one wonders what the perceived threat was to the Kestrel. Maybe it was territorial, although again Buzzards will generally go for larger prey than Kestrels and also often go for carrion rather than live prey.

Just on from this confrontation, two Red Kites were perched in a tree watching the world go by. 

Some years ago now, some of these birds were released as a reintroduction from Harewood House, north of Leeds and over time they have bred and spread out and are now a common sight. They regularly come to check us out at the allotment, gliding over majestically, scanning the ground for any carrion or other food. The speed and agility of these birds, often seen when a pair are displaying or sometimes I think just amusing themselves, is a fantastic sight, and one which twenty years ago you would have had to go to Wales to see. 

They are birds just as comfortable in urban surroundings as in rural areas, and I have seen them frequently over suburbs in east Leeds. One time there were six of them swooping around over the top of a busy roundabout, sometimes quite low over the busy traffic!

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