Saturday, September 26, 2009

Off-Topic? Moi?

Kite atop my neighbour's tree

Kite on the wing

I have the good fortune to live in the Buckinghamshire Chilterns where Red Kites, introduced some years ago, are thriving, and an everyday sight. My neighbours put out food for them twice a day (yes, I know that they should not) and from the chair I now sit in I can often see as many as a dozen of these beautiful birds swooping down no more than twenty yards away. I am the cook in our household, and when I trim up meat for the pot I usually toss the bits onto the lawn, since kites are scavengers who play a part in nature's big recycling policy. I now know where the expression Hawkeye comes from, because kites can tell from forty feet up whether they are looking at a tasty bit of chicken skin or a boring old bit of bread.
I spent an hour or so reading outside this afternoon, and I looked up to my neighbour's 60 foot tree, on the top of which sat a kite, emitting the occasional cry. Not eighteen inches from the bird, on an adjacent branch sat a magpie. Lesser birds usually keep out of the way when kites are around, since their sheer size makes them look scary, but this magpie was not in the least bit bothered. In fact kites are big wusses who can't fight. Their beaks and claws are the wrong shape for aerial battles and I have often seen a bird with a four foot plus wingspan seen off the premises by a crow or two. It's a privilege to have them around.

Later: Thanks to Raedwald for this splendid post. I demand to be hauled before the authorities in a blaze of publicity. Should do wonders for blog traffic.

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