It seems that every three years or so, Richard Ingrams inflicts his views about red kites (and the RSPB) on his readers.
Mr Ingrams finds red kites 'menacing', 'savage' and 'unlikeable', and is 'pleased to see a picture of a dead one'. He makes the entirely laughable suggestion that red kites are a cause of songbird declines.
Whilst this level of uninformed prejudice exists it is easy to see why the RSPB needs to stand up for birds of prey. But as our bird of prey campaign showed, raptors such as red kites have huge numbers of fans. I (@markavery) recently heard from a lady (@FuturistFi) on Twitter who wrote: 'Two Red Kites catching the thermals over my house in Herefordshire. So happy I could burst. Finally we have Kites!'.
Today, by chance, as I drove to work I saw a red kite circling above Kimbolton school - a new site for my records. Far from appearing menacing, to me it looked like just a beautiful bird! It's just a bird for heavens sake! It's a lovely bird! A bird whose numbers were dramatically reduced by prejudice, ignorance and criminality in people's heads and poisons, traps and shotguns on the ground.
Here are some Ingrams quotes, and also some pictures of beautiful red kites that he may hate but many will love.
3 April 2010, Independent
"I suspect the hand of the militant Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the same organisation that has helped to fill the sky over my house with menacing red kites. It may well be time for the Queen to consider whether such an organisation as the RSPB should continue to be allowed to use the prefix "royal"."
10 September 2007, Independent “Used by now to seeing red kites circling menacingly over my house, I was pleased to see a picture of a dead one in yesterday’s Independent. The unfortunate kite was one of 30 introduced into Ireland where until recently the bird was extinct. Some people, it seems, were keen to keep it that way.
Earlier this week there was yet another report about the alarming decrease in this country of a number of familiar small birds such as the house sparrow. There were, however, no corresponding figures about the growing numbers of large birds. Had there been, the kite would have featured high on the list. Introduced into Britain some years ago on the late Paul Getty’s Chilterns estate they are spreading very rapidly all over the country. And the same sort of thing is happening with other even larger birds of prey such as buzzards.
You don’t have to be an ornithologist to work out that the decline of the small bird might have something to do with the increase in the numbers of the large ones, especially when one of them is actually called a sparrowhawk, an indication of its predatory habits.
Yet all these birds of prey are not only protected by EU regulations but they also have the active support of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.The kites, buzzards and sparrowhawks are the ones who are going to get the protection of this powerful and influential charity. Perhaps in future they should make it the RSPBB – the BB standing for big birds.”13 June 2004, The Observer
"When I speculated recently that one reason for the decline in the number of small birds could be that they are being eaten by the growing numbers of large ones, I was taken to task by a lady from the RSPB who assured Observer readers that the red kites, to which I particularly referred, were entirely innocent in this regard. They were, she explained, carrion eaters and therefore environmentally to be welcomed.
Imagine my surprise, then, to see in the Times last week a dramatic picture of a red kite swooping on a magpie and to read the accompanying caption to the effect that kites are known to attack young lambs, to the displeasure of many farmers.
And the following day, a Times reader wrote: 'Last week, I saw a kite fall from the sky like a dart and pluck a mallard duckling from our pond. The speed and accuracy with which it attacked was extraordinary.'
It may be that these sheep and duckling predators are rogue kites, unlike the peaceful carrion-guzzlers which the RSPB is anxious to promote.
Alternatively, it could well be that the kite is, and has always been, a savage and unlikable creature which is now being allowed to breed in large numbers thanks to the folly of a few misguided bird lovers."
Mr Ingram's is clearly from an era of dickensian ignorance and he should refrain from writing on subjects that he doesn't comprehend. In Victorian Britain birds of prey including Owls were considered evil because of their hooked bills alone, something that might seem incredulous today. He should write something based on 21st century science and fact rather than operate from a past century as he seems to do here.
Robin - couldn't agree more!
Sooty - couldn't agree more!
Lindybird - couldn't agree more!
Saw a red kite from a commuter filled train just south of Stevenage the other morning. First time I've seen them in this area and it really brightened up the journey. Well actually it made my day. i look forward to it being a regular sighting.
Hi Mark it is surely well documented that Kites very rarely if ever take small birds and as for lambs unbelievable.The trouble is people will believe some of his silly talk.We have had several Kites over our area last few days so hopefully we may get a fabulous look at one soon.What a pity that papers publish rubbish like he writes.
Shocked to hear that Mr Ingrams has such a hatred of a beautiful bird. Where do these prejudices start? Yesterday I was on the phone and idly glanced out of the window, to see a Sparrowhawk sitting in my apple tree only yards from the window. (Of course all my small garden birds had long scattered when they saw the threat, so were gone) He looked around, then glided majestically away over our hedge into the fields: I felt honoured to have had such a wonderful bird in the garden, and although I would have mourned if he had picked off one of my bluetits for instance, would still have felt the same....
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