Sunday, October 5, 2014

A red letter day

Sunday October 5th 2014 is now a landmark. We’ve been waiting for them to arrive for several years, having seen them in large numbers in Ceredigion and as far east as Brecon.

We’ve each thought on a number of occasions that we’ve seen them here in the lower Rhymney Valley but I haven’t been totally convinced.

This afternoon, however, I was left in no doubt: red kites have reached us at last.

I was walking back down from Mynnydd Y Grug and saw about a dozen birds of prey soaring on a thermal ahead of me. At first I was surprised to see so many buzzards at once but then realised, after one glided about eight feet over my head, that at least eight of them were Red Kites.

They really are elegant birds and I'm delighted to see them here as they very nearly were extinct in Wales in the 1980s. I recall the SAS were guarding a rare nest of them at one stage as a part of their training (For the benefit of Mr Kite, the headline read).

But their arrival comes with a tinge of concern: friends in Aberarth, where red kites are commonly seen in groups of a dozen or more, say they no longer see buzzards.

It may be that, although the birds I watched on the thermal seemed totally at ease with each other, the kites may be outcompeting the resident raptors and perhaps, in a few years time, we'll be calling on the SAS to guard the buzzards' nests.

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