I count myself fortunate to have witnessed the re-establishment of Red Kites in this part of Bedfordshire. I saw the first one here only a few years ago, and it was a real event for me. Now, while not exactly abundant, they are more common. There have been times over the summer when I’ve watched a kite from the comfort of my sofa through the french windows. However, we’ve recently discovered a spot not too far away where you can see the Red Kites almost on demand. It’s only in one small localised area, and it’s a great example of how habitat and food availability shapes the distribution of a species. I’ll explain.
We’ve recently got a season ticket for Woburn Safari Park. It’s on our doorstep, they offer a good deal on an annual ‘toddler pass’ and Scarlett is old enough now to appreciate the animals (and the indoor play area). It means I can go with Scarlett to the library on a Saturday morning and drive home through the safari park, just for the fun of it. The carnivore enclosure is always a favourite, with bears, wolves, tigers, lions – and Red Kites.
Yes, the kites seem to have taken up residence here. On my last visit there were three of them, circling and swooping low over the park. Why do they gather at this spot, and not anywhere else in the vicinity? Here’s a clue:
The wolf has just picked up its breakfast. The animals in this part of the park are fed on meat – it’s the carnivore enclosure. Red Kites are carrion feeders. Obviously the wolves and bears and lions leave enough scraps for the kites to feed on. They’ve found a regular source of food and are making the most of it, hence we’ve got a concentration of them in this small area, whilst my house (which is no distance at all away for a kite) gets relatively few.
It seems a bit odd to have to go to a safari park to see a wild bird, but it shows that nature finds a way, and it has helped me to get my best picture of a Red Kite so far. I did have to take it through the car window though – getting out for a closer view wasn’t really an option…