Wednesday 13 April 2011

K is for Kite – that’s what K is for ...

The Red Kite

The scavenger of Medieval London – keeping the refuse strewn streets clear, before the gradual cleaning up of towns started a decline in carrion, rats and mice, which led to a decline in the kite population.

Early gamekeepers and farmers also persecuted the kite in the pursuit of protecting their free roaming chickens ... before the realisation in the 20th century that another species needed protection itself.

Most of our kite populations were confined to mid-Wales in the hanging oak woods on the sides of river valleys in hilly country.  Wandering kites were also found before protection measures were introduced.

Kites like buzzards, soar, glide and occasionally hover – hence the name given to one of our favourite childhood pastimes, flying a kite.    

They are very adept at hopping along the ground, from where they catch most of their prey – a quick pounce and the young bird, frog, small mammals, insects, and earthworms have their demise – the kite taking off into a tree to enjoy its meal.

Squalor as portrayed in 
Hogarth’s Gin Lane
Our Red Kite is a hawk-like bird with long, angled wings and a long tail, usually, prominently forked and translucent when seen against the sun.

William Shakespeare described London as “a city of Red Kites and Crows” ... as ubiquitous scavengers they lived on the carrion and garbage ridden streets, giving rise to their common name in Elizabethan England “Shitehawk”.

Fortunately now The British Trust for Ornithology is fully engaged in preserving and reintroducing this magnificent bird into the British countryside – so much so ... that the Red Kite was named ‘Bird of the Century’ by the Trust.

That is Kite - that is what K is for ..    

Part of the ABC - April 2011 - A - Z Challenge - Aspects of the British Countryside

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories



Most informative Hilary and wonderful to read. This was about something I knew nothing about so something new learned today.


Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

Oh...Hilary, this is another educational post...I'm learning so much from your posts. I don't know how you find the time to do all the research, to write, read, and take care of your mom. You are awesome!!!

Thanks for stopping by. I agree with your comment. People need so much education about Dementia. That particular case, it was just two sweet elderly ladies, but in their minds, they may have been reliving their "best friends" or "sisters" childhood time. And again, I told them, a kiss is no harm. The opposite, the feeling of kissing remains there-forever- even if our minds are gone. The human closeness, the feeling of companion--that's what those residents were looking for.

Dr Stokes' book arrived yesterday...yay!!!


Anonymous said...

At first I thought of paper kites in the sky, but this is even more interesting.

Thanks for sharing.

walk2write said...

I'm so glad they're being protected now. It seems that Shakespeare was quite the naturalist in his own right.

MorningAJ said...

Oh this is lovely! A few years ago I went to Mid Wales (in one of my other guises!) and visited the wonderful Nant Yr Arian red kite centre. I loved it!

Sorry we missed you in Sussex. We did drive back along the coast road from Brighton (over the top of Beachy Head) but it had been a very long day and we wouldn't have been very good company if we'd called in.... You live in a gorgeous county and we had great weather and a fantastic time while we were there. Hope to get back some day and I promise we'll drop by then.

Let me know if you're going to be anywhere near Leicestershire.

Jannie Funster said...

Kites I fly
they go up high
but woe is me
they end up in trees.

HILREE!!! I saw you on the Naked In Eden video and LOVED seeing you in the flesh. What was that thing on your head, tho?

Loved the mandolin.

Joanne said...

Wouldn't it be nice, to gain recognition of the kite's story, to design actual flying kites to look like the real bird, soaring the skies?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Yvonne .. thank you so much .. it's good learning isn't it! Lovely seeing you here.

@ Doris .. you are having a good look round!! Hope you enjoy the links I emailed. Fortunately Mum is cared for .. so I just visit and spend time with her, and so some organising .. it's the rest - that takes the energy!!

Your stories are certainly illuminating peoples' minds .. and definitely could be turned into a book or newsletter or something! The elderly can lose that closeness - that's so essential to humanity .. and nature. Each of your stories tells a tale with an answer .. they're great.

Wonderful - I hope you enjoy it .. I'm sure you will .. it's a comfortable read .. let me know!

@ K - welcome to my blog .. I confined myself to my brief - the British countryside .. so glad you enjoyed the post.

@ W2W .. those Medieval writers, painters etc etc saw and noted so many things we just take for granted .. I suppose our minds are occupied elsewhere. The detail that is recorded by these early 'scientists' is quite extraordinary.

As Morning AJ says below - the Red Kite Centre is up and running - so they are being protected with new birds being introduced from Europe to broaden our base here.

Lucky you with your holiday time down here .. it is a beautiful county - so til next time. For now I'm not leaving Sussex so I'm here for my Mama .. it's tying, but important.

I used to live in Market Harborough - some years ago!!

Thanks so much for coming by everyone .. Cheers - Hilary

Susan Oloier said...

I am a birder, so I remember the very first time I laid binoculars on a kite. I was with my husband and a group of birder friends. It was a first for all of us, so we were very excited!

Arlee Bird said...

Just another reminder about the amazing balance in nature and the importance of keeping that balance.

Tossing It Out

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Morning AJ .. I see I got carried away and never properly answered your comment - sorry!

Your visit to the Red Kite centre must have been very enlightening .. Wales is stunningly beautiful too.

Thanks for the link - I will definitely visit when I get back to travelling.

@ Jannie .. they do don't they .. or crash into the river!! We had a few sessions with home made kites .. hard-work getting them to fly. These new ones are pretty amazing.

The thing on my head - I blame Susie .. is a knapkin so I had a cap on "similar" to those worn in Medieval times .. hence the dress etc .. and you were meant to laugh ... it sounds as though you did!!

Isn't the mandolin beautiful .. I love wood like that .. just wish I could make music like you and Susie do .. oxoxox

@ Joanne .. now that would be branding in a big way .. beautiful though - I always admire kite flyers .. they just look so beautiful. Very glad to read that the Red Kite is coming back and is being protected.

Many thanks for commenting .. lovely having you here .. cheers Hilary

Anonymous said...

Kites, like other birds of prey, are spectacular to watch in action, swooping down, and pulling up a critter from the grasses. We have a lot of hawks behind our house. Buzzards too.

Bossy Betty said...

Thanks for giving us more information about these impressive birds!

Unknown said...

I, too, love to learn especially about the English countryside.

My mum was born and raised in Birkenhead. She married my dad and birthed my brother during WW2. After the war she stowed away on a cargo ship with her newborn baby to be reunited with my dad. I'm writing my first YA historical fiction based on her life.

i may just use a red kite bird in my book. Thanks for the info.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Susan .. great to meet you .. and a birder too .. it's something I like to get into .. but never quite seem to get hooked .. did somewhat in the Okavango .. but it's warm there!

Seeing your first Kite must have been brilliant .. and the fact you were sharing it with your hubbie and friends, even more special.

@ Lee .. yes I was going to bring a bit more of this in - but remembered about a short(ish) post!

You're so right .. the balance in nature and keeping it thus.

@ Stephen .. they must be fun to watch from the house - if you've got a good vantage point. As you say just watching them hover, then drop to catch something is very special.

@ Bossy Betty .. pleasure - they are certainly impressive.

Many thanks for coming by .. good to see you all .. cheers Hilary

Mandy Allen said...

I adore Red Kites, Hilary. I have watched them for a few years now, seen their numbers grow in the areas I visit and, as an RSPB member, been delighted with this change.

I love your series, just read all the other posts as I've been away again since mid March. Back to work now though.

Hope you and mum are well. We are!

Enjoy the journey.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Kathy .. that's great and a bonus to know that you're enjoying the posts.

Memoirs are always special - it will make an interesting read. So much happens in life that we don't seem to know about .. mother and baby stowing away to be reunited with their loved one. You can make it so personal with those extra touches, yet it is fiction.

Please do use the Red Kite .. an interesting addition .. have a look at the site Morning AJ highlights above ...

@ Mandy .. good to see you here .. and that you can see Red Kites in Norfolk/Suffolk .. as you say a very good sign with numbers growing.

Thank you re the series .. just seemed a little different .. and you've been away again - lucky you!! Still we all need breaks in our working lives and Summer's here with lots of work ahead.

Thanks Mandy we are .. and glad to hear all's well your end .. that's good news.

Thanks Kathy and Mandy good to see you both .. cheers Hilary

The Old Silly said...

Interesting. I never knew where the work 'kite' came from or why. And the bird itself is a fine looking, majestic creature. Thanks for this 'K' tidbit!

Marvin D Wilson

Ann said...

I am glad they are being protected. And though they acquired a bad rep in the past, they are still a beautiful bird to watch as they glide across the sky.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Marvin ... Linnaeus first described the species in his Systema Naturae in 1758 .. as a Falco milvus .. falcon. I'm not sure why a Kite is called a kite - Milvus is a genus of medium-sized birds of prey. An Old World Group consisting of three kites ...

Kites seem to have interbred and are a 'mixed' species - but they are as you say very fine looking. Glad you enjoyed the 'K' post.

@ Ann .. me too it seems near the Centre that Morning AJ above describes there's a farmer who is also protecting them and feeding them .. so Wales has a good population.

They are an incredible site as they soar in the skies.

Thanks to you both for coming over - cheers Hilary

Golden Eagle said...

Very interesting post! It was great to learn more about kites--I hadn't known much about the history of the bird.

Thank you for commenting on my blog! :)

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,
Yes, I've just flown over from another blog that was doing a posting on the letter 'K' in this thrilling 'Alphabet challenge'. And they were doing a posting on 'Kites' and I expected they meant this kind of Kite. But no, it was 'kite' as in 'go fly a kite' :)
Anyway, on a serious note, yes, I can be serious, once again you have provided fascinating info and accompanying pictorials. I appreciate your information on that majestic bird, that is the kite.
And soon you will reveal what the 'L' is next :)
Take care Hilary and thank you.

Linda said...

An absolutely lovely bird - thanks for introducing him. I love to watch hawks and other large birds soar. I'm glad they are protected now.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Such a beautiful bird. Thanks for sharing, Hilary. I love birds, and learning something new is always a good thing.

Anonymous said...

My daughter Jen just said, This is so neat. She said she knew there was a kite bird, but she didn't really know why it was called a kite. I didn't know any of this. I just love your posts! They are SO interesting, and the photographs, of course, are awesome.

I came back last night from staying with my daughter who had neck surgery. I've just posted an update.

Now I can check in to see all of my wonderful blogging friends and thank them for their supports.

Your comments while I've been gone have been so uplifting. Thank you SO SO much!

We have such different backgrounds and yet we also have much in common with the trials we face. I'm so glad we're friends!
Ann Carbine Best’s Long Journey Home

Susan Scheid (Raining Acorns) said...

I saw my first kite ever in Wales last summer. Quite a sight! Interesting to learn something of its story. Thanks!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Golden Eagle .. pleasure - I thought you'd be posting on these birds too .. but your post was on the other variety! I love the learning process ..

Pleasure coming over to your blog ..

@ Gary .. you've had lots of comments on your K .. that's wonderful!! Kites (not birds) seem to make a few entries, as did Kiss! Used to love flying a kite, but we weren't terribly successful!

Serious?! It was a fascinating reminder of how life was .. not so long ago .. when we needed birds to do our scavenging and cleaning.

I'd better get on I need to write the 'L'! You too .. glad you're enjoying joining in the fun of the A - Z.

@ Linda .. as you say it is a stupendous creature .. that peace just watching them soar the skies above us .. at least they're being reintroduced, so the population can increase.

@ Joylene .. I'm sure you have lots of eagles and other birds of prey over the lake - must be glorious to sit and watch.

@ Ann.. so pleased Jen got some benefit from the post - that's why I write them .. for Mum and for others to stimulate some discussion - glad it helps!

Jen is amazing that she joins in .. it's wonderful to know .. and delighted you enjoy them so much - I'm appreciative of your sentiments.

Ann- I'll be across to check the update and find out how things are going've got so much going on. & yet - you still come back and find us and follow us on our journeys.

It's a pleasure that's what life is about ... helping and supporting others .. and I love doing it - just seems a natural extension.

That's what always surprises me -how we can be on the same wave length .. yet are so different - yet are so alike as we toddle along our paths. Me too - I wouldn't miss you and Jen for the world now .. it's just wonderful being friends amongst friends.

@ Raining Acorns .. you are so lucky to have been over to the valleys where the Red Kites flourish .. must have been glorious. Glad I added to the kite's background ...

Thanks everyone so much .. always so good to see you all - cheers Hilary

Rosalind Adam said...

Hi, great to meet you through the A to Z. I've never seen a Kite (I don't think) but I've seen Kestrels. They ran an article about the Kestrel nesting beside motorways on BBC's The One Show last night.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rosalind .. good to meet you too. I didn't see the tv last night .. but interesting they showed Kestrels - they seem to like their perches near roads - easy prey = road kill!

Cheers for now .. Hilary

Blue Bunny said...


I seen you on the viddeo too at robbins edin, on joy hollands blogg too, and I loved yor smile so mutch! I feel we sutch evin beter frends than evver now!

I lieked yor knapkin on yor hedd, very middel-ages indeed. i bin reeding about the middel ages since my jannie taeked me to the rennasanse fair.

sorree yoo not seen me so mutch, my jannie haz me bizzee wit spring kleenings. and meaking muffins for the homeliss shellters. teh homeliss loves the straberrie ones the best.

i see YOO bin reel reel bizzie, posting mutch tiems for the alfabets challinge. wil yoo taek a vacashin wen yoo finishes the leter z??

well, i sees yoo on yor latest post next.

wit loves, me BB, that's blue bunny!


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hello BB .. guds to seez U again!

Robin's video is grate - wiv all her frinds posting laughing vids for her Naked in Eden blog .. we do get to knows each uver betters via vids .. Jannie and her songs come across so well in her vids.

Ya - Susie's idea re the 'cap' type .. knapkin does replacement! We do Middle Ages here too .. lots of fairs coming up .. Susie does them - she sings too ...

I'm sorree Jannie keeps you reel buzy .. but Springing kleens needs doing .... and making muffins to help the homelss is a v gud cause - straberrie be the best - I must remembers.

Alfabets challenge is giving us all a ride for each letter's life .. ticking along so far...

No - I tink I shall revert to my normal posts .. tho .. dey take longer .. maybe shorter ones in between .. who knows!!

It's grate to have zo many comments from you all in one morning for me! Seez u at de next .. H me thinks!

U toos .. wiv luvs xoxox Hilree xoxox

Ella said...

Thanks Hilary, I learned something new! Fascinating~

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. They are fascinating birds.

Have to admit, from your title, I thought your post was going to be about paper kites. I was wondering what kind of colorful creations you were going to share with us.

Have a great day! How is your mother doing?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Ella .. good to see you - they look too beautiful don't they.

@ Susanne .. thank you - ah! you forgot one critical aspect .. the British Countryside .. real birdie kites, .. man-made kites!! The Golden Eagle above has some wonderful other sort of kites on his blog.

Many thanks - Mum is fine .. mainly peaceful, just enjoying my quiet company ... appreciate you asking!

Thanks Ella and Susanne .. enjoy Friday .. cheers Hilary