Sunday 19th February, Down Grange Meadow, Basingstoke
Red Kites are an increasingly common visitor to the outskirts of Basingstoke, so to see them overflying open green spaces in Kempshott is no longer newsworthy.
However, today we had just finished a work party in Down Grange Meadow and were finishing packing up the tools when a red kite appeared from the west , flying quite low. When over flying they are usually much higher in the sky – this bird was no more than 50 feet up.
We stood and watched it for 4-5 minutes as it quartered the Meadow, sometimes no more than 25 meters away from us – and at that distance you really appreciate how big a bird it is in flight and what beautiful and distinctive colouring it has. During its quartering flight it once dipped to the ground – but it was not clear whether it had caught anything or not. It paused twice on a branch near the top of a large beech in the Spinney – the second time disturbing a magpie which challenged it and seemed to force it to take flight again.
The agility and ease of its flight has to be seen to be appreciated. We have a healthy population of voles and mice in the Meadow so we can only hope that it will think it worth returning. The photograph, sadly, is not ours but comes from Wikipedia to show you what we were seeing. Why does one never have a camera handy when one needs one?