As the kind of person who enjoys nature but does not always know the names of creatures I come across, I have a little tale about one bird I do recognise and would love to here any feedback...
The Red Kite.
Visited Gibside, NT estate near Newcastle, wandered around and took pathway around the extremities.At the top of the hill the view was incredible, looking North towards the Pennines over beautiful countryside. Noticed what appeared to be Red Kites high up on the thermals meandering across the sky. Spent quite a while just standing viewing from here, when I became aware of something out of the corner of my eye! A Red Kite was just over an arms length away coming straight for me with it's talons protruding from it's straight outstretched legs!!
It immediately backed off with backward flapping wings, I could feel the draft at this range from it's huge wings. It slowly climbed away. I immediately thought wow that was amazing, then reality set in, that was lucky I turned towards it when I did as it could have caused some serious damage! I am aware of the Red Kites normal eating habits and can only assume my grey beard may have been the target! Would be interested to hear anyone else's thoughts.
They do look at you i found this out last week up near Leeds but I would say it was going for somthing else untill you turned round.
Muddy Boots Kites.
There is a chance it was on target for something a little more manageable. Raptors in general get a bad press from some quarters so imagine the headlines if a Red Kite was reported attacking a birders legs !!
Sad to say a lot of people in the Rowlands Gill area do feed them so they are possibly a little more used to humans. That said I still believe that it was after something else and its familiarity with the human form meant that it was just ignoring you and flying past. I suspect that Gibside suffers from more than the occasional case of litterbugging with the odd tasty looking morsel thrown in.
'...unless you were looking particularly poorly, that is :)' Funny you should say that!
What an experience!
I can't imagine what it was doing, but Red Kites are mainly scavengers and I don't think they often go for anything large and still alive so I wonder if it had spotted something close by and you were just very near to its flight path. Some often get fed (and watched) and I suppose the odd one may not be too afraid of proximity to people because of that. That's all I can think off anyway … unless you were looking particularly poorly, that is :)
Oh my goodness Malcom, that must have been some experience to see the Red Kites, but some other experience indeed to nearly be part of their lunch menu! Scary indeed.
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