The Visitor

One evening a few weeks ago, while those fierce winds were raking across our hilltop, we spotted something taking shelter by the hedge that runs along the field beside us.

Young bird of prey sheltering beneath hedge

A closer look revealed that it was not, after all,  an adventurous chicken from one of our neighbours seeking shelter, but rather a young (yet already impressively large) bird of prey. We watched, fascinated, as it huddled beneath the hedge for a time, before venturing further into the field with a short flight.

Young Red Kite standing in the field

We willed it closer as it sauntered about the pasture, turning over the ground beneath its feet, or standing to survey the landscape that falls away into the valley, but it seemed quite content to shuttle about the same bit of ground, and we continued to watch it for some time.

Young Red Kite in the field

Young Red Kite in the field

For a couple of days we were thrilled to find it returned to the same spot, and from its markings and the forked shape of its tail (not evident in these shots) we identified it as a juvenile Red Kite.

Young Red Kite in the field

Young Red Kite in the field

It seemed equally unfazed by the inquisitive cows, by other (much smaller) birds swooping nearby, or by the occasional traffic rattling along the lane on the other side of the hedge.

The last time I saw it, early one morning, it finally flew low over the hedge, across the lane and out of sight.

Young Red Kite in flight

Persecution drove the Red Kite (Milvus milvus) to extinction in most of the UK in the 1930s, with the last few pairs restricted to Wales, but a breeding programme was successful in restoring them to our isles, though they are still on the RSPB’s Amber list.

We haven’t seen our visitor again for a week or two; I wonder how far it had flown from its birthplace, and where it will make its own territory. It made an interesting change from the ubiquitous buzzards, with their distinctive cry, that tend to patrol our skies.

Most of these pictures were captured by King of The Hill.

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18 thoughts on “The Visitor

  1. Red Kites were re-introduced in the area of High Wycombe a few years ago, and they have absolutely thrived. The population has spread very rapidly and we even see them close to Fleet now (about 40 miles from High Wycombe). Presumably your one had been abondoned by its parents before it was truly self-sufficient.

  2. Fab – we have buzzards which fly over our garden but I havent seen a red kite. They are wonderful creatures arent they

  3. Isn’t it wonderful when we realise that we are sharing the earth with other cratures who have just as much right to be in our space as we have. Christina

  4. what a wonderful surprise for you and how lucky that you could get photos, I frequently hear about red kites on some of the nature programmes I listen to, thanks for sharing, Frances

    • You’ll be the first to know when they arrive in Sussex; you are, after all, the bird whisperer when it comes to capturing photographs!

  5. I love red kites. We used to live near the Chilterns and get them soaring over our garden. If I’m lucky enough to see the odd one now straying from the Brecon Beacons it always makes me think of where we used to live.

    • I wonder if they fly over here without me noticing. I’m pretty poor at identifying birds! The buzzards are obvious but otherwise…

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