Top place for conservation successes in Britain must go to Red Kites, but ‘white/white 76’, found himself in an unfortunate place - Linda Peirce’s conservatory.
"I was drinking coffee and reading the paper early one sunny Sunday morning (as one does!) when suddenly there was the loudest, most startling bang on the French windows. At the other side of the windows in the conservatory was a frantic red Kite. The conservatory is small and Red Kites have a 5-foot wingspan. Ornaments and papers were being hurled around as the kite’s panic increased. He had flown in through the open conservatory door but, as many birds do, he fixed on one particular window to try to thrash his way out. It was truly horrifying.
"My calls for help brought the family out of their beds. The sight of us only increased the kite’s terror. Eventually, by drawing the curtains and using a walking stick, Fred was able to gently persuade 76 to go out through the door. There was enormous relief all round.
"So why had the kite made such a fundamental error of judgement? On the floor we found a very manky headless Woodpigeon chick – long dead - which he’d dropped in his terror. Perhaps it was the trees reflected in the glass that fooled him into flying into our conservatory? Who knows? None of us, including 76 I’m sure, want to go through that again."
As for Red Kite 76, his white wing tags and number enabled us to find out quite a lot about him. Derek Holman, who is part of the team who have been responsible for the local Red Kite re-introduction program, reports that this bird is 4 years-old and hatched from a nest at Blatherwycke. He’s a local lad! He was one of two chicks ringed and tagged on 15 June 2011 and was identified in pre-roost gatherings at Fermyn Hall and Lilford Park several times during the following winter. He established a territory in Fineshade soon after that and has been identified here very frequently ever since.
In the East Midlands there are an estimated 150 Red Kite nests this year. Initially birds were wing-tagged to allow the growth of the colony to be studied, but this stopped in 2013, although many of the young birds are still ringed as nestlings.
White/white 76 is busy raising a family at the moment and if you’re visiting Fineshade you might see him foraging to feed his mate. You’ll almost certainly hear him calling too as he guards his territory. We hope they successfully produce some youngsters. 76 will certainly have a good conservatory story to tell his offspring!
We are most grateful to James Smith, Chasing Myths Photography for permission to use these photos of 76 taken at Top Lodge last weekend.