Sunday, May 28, 2017

Chiltern Orchid safari pt III. Red Kites at Watlington Hill.

We ended up at Watlington Hill, famed for its Red Kites. Prior to arriving at Watlington we must have seen over a hundred, including having two tussling over our heads in Goring. So I was slightly alarmed to walk out onto Watlington Hill with just a few distant Red Kites visible. We walked along the path just under the peak of the ridge for a few hundred metres up to an area where the scrubby trees parted and we could see both sides of the ridge. Kites were patrolling here and we managed to get some decent views of birds coming over our heads and patrolling each side. Inevitably most of  my photos were out of focus or blurry. I've cropped the best below, but if you want better then there's David's or Alan's

I used to watch this area casually in the late 80's when my in-laws lived in the area. I still remembering returning to their house saying I thought I'd seen a Red Kite but surely that was impossible, and my father in law saying they'd been reintroduced. Now of course they are everywhere, and I cannot help but wondering how the local area can support hundreds of large carrion-eating birds. I cannot recall the countryside being strewn with dead rabbits prior to their arrival, so I'm intrigued how these birds are apparently taking large amounts of calorific value out of the area without any other apparent changes to the environment.

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