I had to go to Stratford at lunchtime for repeat blood tests (sigh), and set off in plenty of time, in the hope that I might manage to grab a bird photo somewhere along the river. Instead though, I took these shots just about a mile out of the village, where three Red Kites were wheeling, swooping and chasing each other back and forth across the farmland on either side of the road. As soon as I found somewhere wide enough to stop the car without endangering either it or other road users, I parked and leapt out with the camera. The Red Kites, inevitably, moved further away, but five minutes of pursuit on foot got me close enough to capture the first image. I then went back to the car and continued my journey, but around the next major bend I came up with the birds again, stopped in a field entrance, and managed to be right underneath the fly-over in my second image.
Both these photos are of the same Kite, which was by some way the biggest of the three and will therefore be a female, and it was interesting to see in my shots of their chasing game that part of the time she was the pursued and at other times the pursuer. It seems a little early in the year for courtship behaviour, but even if this was raptor foreplay Red Kites are monogamous, so only one of the chasing males would have had any chance of success, while the other must simply have been chancing his wing. Given the weather I’m happy enough with these photos, but they aren’t as good as the ones I took of a Red Kite a couple of weeks ago at Farmoor. On that day though I had light, and a bird that was more concerned about the Crows that were chasing it than it was about me.
After I’d finally made it to Stratford and had my bloods done I went off to Compton Verney in search of Great Crested Grebes, but to my dismay there were none there. I spoke to a member of staff who told me that they disappeared round about the same time as a pair of otters moved into the lake, and it seems likely that the Grebes have gone to look for somewhere safer to nest. This is really quite depressing news – otters are fine, but I’d much rather have a nesting pair of Great Crested Grebes, and I don’t know of anywhere else locally where I can get such good views as I’ve had in recent years at Compton Verney.