Thursday, 2 August 2012

There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man

than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.

© Mike Watson Kite over Kelshal

Red Kites are back in North Hertfordshire in good numbers. 

We see them regularly on our walks alongside the nature Purwell Nature Reserve and further afield.

There is a thrill to be had watching them soar every time we spot one.

In 2000 Red Kites had reached the woodlands just west of Hitchin and it seems they have returned to the sheep walks of their ancestral homelands to the east of Baldock. There aren't many sheep in the hills now,  however there are lots of rabbits and it is fantastic to know that they are back after an absence of hundreds of years.

"Red Kites were abundant in this country in medieval times and the start of their demise came in 1566 when the 'Acte for the Preservacion of Grayne' named them amongst the 'noyfull Foyles and Vermyn' with a bounty placed on their heads (this also included bullfinches and hedgehogs!). The evolution of the shotgun, from the sixteenth century onwards, as well as the kites' relative lack of fear of man and their slow flight made them easy targets. Then, after two hundred years of mindless destruction, came the rise of the game-preserver, their numbers dwindled further and the final nails in their coffin were hammered in by egg collecting and shooting for the taxidermy trade as they became rarer and therefore more sought after. Happily, following the successful re-introduction scheme, they look set to attain the status of fourth commonest bird of prey in the UK, after Common Kestrel, Eurasian Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzard." ~ Mike Watson

However, the thread from man has not gone away. There have been recent incidences of poisoning reported in the local press.