No place to hide
The grass has been cut and all the little creatures are scurrying away to hide. When I say ‘grass’ I do not mean the lawn, I am talking about Oak Meadow and Goose bottom field. For so long now the voles and field mice have been able to hide away here feeding on seed from the wildflower heads. But now the tractor and cutter have been, followed by the turner and the baler. The fields are bare and yellow. We can walk there again unhindered, but this means that the predators in the sky are also free to see what is exposed.
I expected the kestrel or even the buzzard to be there hovering but instead it was the red kite that we saw. It was scooping silently along the pale stalks of grass looking for something to eat. Then it flew into the blue sky with a twist and turn of its forked tail. Usually, it eats carrion or small things like worms, but this was too good a chance to miss with our hapless little voles scurrying around in clear sight with nowhere to go.
Our grass is cut late so that all the wildflowers have had time to seed. The queen bumble bees are safely hidden in the soil as are the eggs of the grasshopper which lives here. The chirping adults do not survive the winter. Hopefully some butterfly and moth caterpillars and chrysalises are safe in the tall grasses left on the side near the hedges.
We were full of excitement about seeing the red kite which, although not now in danger as it once was, is still not a common sight here. So, we decided to go and see them in Wales at their feeding station on a farm. Armed with our e-tickets on my mobile we set off.
We sat in a field, we did not pay extra to go in a hide, because of the risk of COVID I wanted to be outside. Then the farmer came with his tractor and trailer and dropped meat. Hundreds of giant birds, with forked tails and flashes of russet red, circled and fell out of the sky. Swallows darted amongst them with their piping cries and buzzards mewed from the side. But the stars of the show were the magnificent kites.
Back at home our bird feeding station has got off to a much less spectacular start. We have blue tits, great tits and occasionally the robin puts in an appearance. Of course, we do not expect a red kite again, but I am sure that something spectacular will appear eventually. We look forward to greater things.
(Taken from my weekly column in the Shropshire Star)