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The most beautiful of raptors

April 26, 2008

vidbigMany years ago when I spent some days with Thames Water field staff one of the water quality inspectors, learning that I was an occasional (and lackadaisical) ornithologist took me up to the top of the Chiltern Escarpment. We laid on our backs and waited, and a few minutes later a pair of red kites swept over us at a height of a couple of meters to take advantage of the thermals. It was a glorious sight. When my parents were alive I used to take the long route between Marlborough and Moelfre, passing over the moorland above Llanidloes past Llyn Clywedog to Machynlleth. It was rare not to see red kites on that trip and the glories of the trip compensated even if there were none. The photos at the end of this post should illustrate that.

I remember once, driving home on a depressing wet day occupied with depressing news that any treatment for my mother’s cancer was palliative not curative. As I reached the top a found a bedraggled male red kite hunched miserably on top of a fence post. I stopped next to him and he stayed in place, too wet to care I think. Our moods matched and we both sat contemplating our mutual strangeness for the best part of half an hour. Driving home last night, catching up on a back episode of the Archers I experienced a strange coincidence. The story line was of Will, not the nicest of characters in the story and a gamekeeper, being investigated on suspicion of poisoning a red kite. This was on the radio as I turned off the M4 to drop down into Hungerford and a red kite swept over the road in front of me. The most beautiful of all raptors, and their range must be extending for me to have seen it there. Drivers on the M40 south of Oxford, if they are observant will always stand a good chance of seeing them as well by the way.

Views of Llyn Clywedog

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