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Red Kite’s in August

on Aug 15, 2012 | General | 0 comments
Red Kite
 

When you ask people to think of wildlife here in West Wales often the first thing that comes into their heads these days are Red Kites. These majestic birds of prey are now synonymous with this area of Wales. In fact they now seem to everywhere which is difficult to believe when you consider that they were in danger of dying out not so long ago (the entire Welsh population is derived from one breeding female bird, and the population as recently as the 1960's was only 20 pairs of birds). They seem to be an important part of what draws visitors to this area, and the tourist industry seems to know this. They have become a local emblem, incorporated into signs, posters and badges and then there's a number of 'Red Kite feeding stations' that have sprung up throughout Wales; Red Kite hot spots where daily feeding guarantee's visitors good sightings and great photographs as dozens of birds swoop down for free food. Eco tourism can be a double edged sword with visitors sometimes doing more damage (there are a number of marine examples of this with dolphins being a good example) than good, but in this case I do think this bird still needs all the support it can get. We should remember there are still large parts of the country where they are still not seen and it wouldn't take much for the tide to turn against them once more. However it was still nice to have my own private Red Kite viewing in August.

We didn't have much of a summer, did we!? I think we had more than our fair share of wet weather here in Ceredigion. Aberystwyth almost disappeared under water at one point and we only counted 2 or 3 weeks without any rain from April to September. This has made it very difficult down on the farm. The land just keeps on cutting up and the grass won't grow. It gave us only a small window of opportunity to cut our hay; and on a week in mid August that is exactly what we did. For this small period the skies were blue and the days long and warm.

Apparently, little did I know, Red Kite's also like to spend warm days watching the harvest gathered. They are primarily scavengers, preferring to fly high on the thermals and watch the ground below for a tasty snack. They love it when the hay is cut, the tractors and cutters obviously flush out the unsuspecting rodent population of the meadow, and these dazed, sometimes injured creatures are easy pickings for a hungry Kite. I was told by the contractor that we use to cut the hay that they will follow the tractor everywhere; in large fields on hills and away from buildings their numbers can dramatically increase. That if there are no other people about they will come and sit on the tractor ignoring the driver whilst he goes about his work and watch the ground below waiting for lunch to emerge. He also said that he's seen them working together to corner prey as large as a rabbit! We see Red Kite's regularly around the farm, but not normally a dozen at a time and not normally so close. On this day in August I had my own show, here's to the long hot summer of 2013!

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